Summary: When life hands you puzzle pieces you can’t figure out, what do you do? How can we handle it? Let’s examine how Paul dealt with his "thorn in the flesh", and learn some lessons for us! *HANDOUT INCLUDED*
Tap Into God’s Grace (OR Bitter or Better OR Let it Change You)
2 Cor. 12:7-10 -
2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What kind of “thorn” was Paul talking about?
1. Physical problem?
Now THERE’s a thorn in the flesh!
2. People Problem?
You know those kind of people? I call them EGR people – Extra Grace Required.
3. Emotional problem?
Bouts of depression? Discouragement?
Honestly, we don’t really know what Paul’s thorn was. All we know is that it was painful – it was a huge hurt.
The key wasn’t what Paul’s problem was – it was how he handled it! He learned that he could tap into God’s grace.
Grace is 2 things. We sometimes only think of the one, and forget the other:
- Undeserved kindness - he saves us when we don’t deserve it.
- Enabling power - he gives us strength to live like he wants us to.
USE THE PROBLEM TO BE A:
A Preventive to Pride “Lest I should be exalted above measure.”
Paul could’ve been very proud of what he had accomplished. Really, spreading Christianity across much of the known world, without even using e-mail!
A Pressure to Pray “I besought the Lord 3X”
But what happens when you’re specific with God, and he doesn’t take the problem away?
A Prompt to Prioritize?? “I take pleasure in infirmities...for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I love the Olympics. Something about the power in those athletes. They’ve trained for years for this, and they’re in top shape. I don’t have a television, but the other day when I was at a store, and I saw those gymnasts whipping themselves around on that pommel horse. . . WOW.
You ever notice that our culture glorifies strength? Whether it’s the weightlifting guy, or the gymnast, or swimmer, or Lance Armstrong, it’s always the strongest one who gets the most notice. Even in the business world, it’s the strongest leader, the one who’s tough on the competition.
Did you know that God values weakness?