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Paul wrote about this concept in 2 Corinthians:
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
• Everyone encounters walls
This is part of the experience of God. One author described God during these times as a Cloud of Unknowing. He said at first it seems in your meditations that you enter a darkness—a dark cloud. It is where God seems to be unknown. Eventually with persistence, God reveals himself in a powerful, new way as you go through the cloud into His wonderful presence.
Everyone will encounter a wall, usually several in his or her lifetimes. However, not everyone journeys through the wall. Judas hit a wall but didn’t come through it. Peter hit a wall when he denied Jesus and almost didn’t come through it. But he finally trusted Jesus to bring him through it and back into grace. These times are like the refining fire that burn away the impurities. It is God’s way of rewiring our taste buds for better and healthier ways of functioning as we shed our dysfunction. And we all have dysfunctional issues to deal with. But the greatest dysfunction of all is the denial of dysfunction.
There is something incredibly healing and freeing to not only be able to admit our flaws but in community with others who admit their imperfections.
• Our resignation is needed
By resignation I have meaning to be resigned to allow God work in us for His purposes. It is not giving up. It is “Letting Go and Letting God.” Cliché, yes. But it is also very helpful and full of truth. Whether or not we actually journey through the wall depends on whether or not we are resigned to follow God through the valley of the shadow of death.
• It can seem like an eternity
It seems like forever when we are going through it. It seems like it will never end. Often it seems like it cannot get any worse, yet it does.
But how long will it last, you may ask. That’s your cue… “How long will it last?” Do you really want to know? No, you don’t really want to hear this but it may go on for several months. But probably, it may last a year or two… or more. Abraham waited 25 years for God to show up. Israel wandered the desert for 40 years. Israel was in slavery in Egypt for generations. (Now that isn’t good.) For generations, people wondered when the Messiah would come. When Jesus finally came, it was such a huge wall that many couldn’t or wouldn’t go through it. Paul spent several years after his conversion growing before he left to be the disciple to the Gentiles.
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