Summary: overcoming our weaknesses
When we read biography, it sometimes tend to show that there is a perfect human being in the world. Even from the Bible we can easily find people like Job, Abraham, and many others who have walked their lives just faithfully all the time. One day God appealed to Abraham and said, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Gen 12:4 = “So Abraham left, as the LORD had told him.” Wow, without knowing the clear reason why he has to leave his hometown, Abraham just followed the LORD faithfully. Not only that, Abraham was the person who was willing to sacrifice his only son for God, even though Abraham had his son when he was 100 years old.
When we look at the person like Abraham, we lost our hope to be a person after God’s own heart. Most people from the Bible were too faithful and too perfect for us to imitate. We are definitely far too human compare to them!
But if we look closely, we can easily find that they were also weak and imperfect being like us. In Abraham’s case, Gen 17:16 = this is the part when God promised to Abraham that God will give a son for him. “I will bless Sarah and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” What is Abraham’s reaction after that? Gen 17:17 = “Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Abraham laughed, he did not believe in God! This shows the other part of Abraham’s faith. Even though Abraham experienced greatest miracles from God, he was the person who could not even believe what God said to him face to face. There is no one who is perfect or who can please the LORD through his or her deeds. We all are handicapped.
We thought, perhaps, that a scientist like Pasteur, upon whose titanic work, must have had lusty health to labor with. We discover that he had a paralytic stroke at forty-six and was handicapped for life. We find Beethoven writing music although deaf and Milton writing poetry although blind, and we discover that in general handicapped people have done the great work of the world. They may have had faults and foibles like all of us but they had handicaps also, often far more severe than we have faced, and they dealt them superbly. How did they do it? What was the inward technique with which they handled limitations? Is there any one of us who does not need to learn that?
Paul’s thorn in the flesh
Paul’s story in II Corinthians shows that the biography in the Bible is no way differs from life stories outside. Let me read the scripture again “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” No one knows what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Many people said that it is an eye trouble, but no one really knows. Think about Paul writing all those letters (Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Rome) and telling nobody the symptoms of his trouble! We know nothing, however, Paul had to handle his limitation that he prayed to take it away three times. Paul was a handicapped man yet successful in his life and his work.
In our lives, there must be something that we may pray to God to take it away; there must be something that we feel a great pain to deal with. We all are handicapped in some way. There are some whose limitations lie in personal relationships, a life that wanted love and care but missed it. There are some who has to deal with their discomfort body. I am also dealing with my own problems and my own limitations that I wouldn’t want to share with you guys. How, then, shall we deal with it? What is the technique? Where is the grace that is sufficient for us?
1) Have positive mind and attitude
In the first place, if we are to deal with our handicaps and our limitations we must have positive mind and positive attitude. The first instinctive reaction toward a handicap is a negative attitude or self-pity. We say to ourselves “Why me????” Many a handicapped man has cursed God after saying “Why did you do this to me Lord?”
We have to be aware that everyone has his or her own handicaps and limitations. I am not, and you are not the only ones who have handicaps and limitations; probably it may differ, but everyone has to deal with their own handicaps. Once we begin to take this positive attitude toward our handicaps, we will take our handicaps as opportunities and challenging. Let us look at the story of Joseph. Joseph did not want to be sent to Egypt. Betrayed by his brothers, sold in slavery, lied about by his master’s wife and put in prison—that was a bad situation for him. But Joseph did not curse the LORD instead he faced this bad situation and made something out of it. Even for Paul, he did not want a thorn in the flesh. It was a big pain for him that he cried out to the Lord to take it away three times. But later he confesses “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Paul gladly accepted his weaknesses and his handicaps. After Paul took his thorn in positive sense, he was able to be filled with the strength of the Lord and wrote about the half of the New Testament. Isn’t this amazing thing? Let us take our handicaps, weaknesses, and limitations in positive ways.