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Summary: Surprising source of a strength for the Christian: his "thorn"

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1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. 3And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

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.

How is life going, people? Are u having a good day or a bad day? Author Max Lucado shares the story of a parakeet named Chippie who had a very bad day. It began when the bird’s owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum cleaner. She was almost finished when the phone rang, so she turned around to answer it. Before she knew it, Chippie was gone.

In a panic she ripped open the vacuum bag. There was Chippie, covered in dirt and gasping for air. She carried him to the bathroom and rinsed him off under the faucet. Then, realizing that Chippie was cold and wet, she reached for the hair dryer! Chippie never knew what hit him.

His owner was asked a few days later how he was recovering. "Well", she replied, "Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore. He just sits and stares."

I wonder if sometimes we just sit and stare at life as we look at life’s hardships. Have you ever felt like that? One minute you’re whistling through life, and the next you’re caught up in a whirlwind of stress. Life sucks you up into its vortex and just when you think you’ve recovered from one trouble another wind of adversity blows in your direction. My suspicion is – all of us can identify with Chippie. But something in us throbs… we want to sing again. We want our spirits to be free… we want our lives to soar beyond the natural into the supernatural…

Ask the millions who go Mecca, or the Ganges River in India, to Lourdes, France, and those who tune into soap operas on a daily basis, and millions who build their own altars of worship in their homes. Do they not want their lives to soar like the eagle? In Canada, they are stories of images of the virgin Mary appearing in the close to the Saskatchewan Nunavut border. People are drawn to such stories.


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