Summary: So often in our lives we hit a bump in the road. We answer the phone and on the other end there’s bad news. Ever happen to you?
Has it ever happed to you? The phone rings and on the other end there’s bad news. You go to the mailbox and there’s a letter from the IRS or a past due notice, more bad news. You go to the doctor and he gives it to you, bad news. There’s a knock on your door, bad news.
Sure, we have all had these times. Suffering. No one wants, no one enjoys it. But, we can be there for one another offering comfort, a shoulder to cry on, holding each other up. Few things will draw the Christian towards God and towards His Word like pain and suffering.
The Apostle Paul had had one of the most remarkable experiences anyone could possibly have. To be caught up into the very heavens with God. He has been permitted to see things that noone else has ever seen. Paul could have very easily been filled with pride.
But then there’s a bump in his road. He gets a thorn in his flesh. He, one of the godliest people of the Bible, prays and asks God to remove the thorn, but God says "No, but my grace will be sufficient."
Paul tells us a lot of things about this thorn in his flesh. He tells us the purpose of it, the pain of it, the provision in it, the product of it, the perspective of it.
(Adapted from the book "A Bend In The Road" by David Jeremiah.)
I. The Purpose of this disruptive moment. Vs.7
"Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations..."
Pride. Paul clearly states that the purpose of his suffering was to protect him from the sin of pride. If he had had a press agent, he would have most certainly billed Paul as the only man who had visited heaven and lived to tell about it. But God uses disruptive moments to help us keep things in perspective.
A. To keep us humble
B. To keep us dependent upon Himself.
C. To help us keep things in perspective.
II. The pain of the disruptive moment.
"A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me" vs. 7
Many scholars have spent untold hours speculating on the nature of Paul’s problem. Some suggestions include: eye problems, epileptic seizures, malaria, hysteria, hypochondria, gallstones, gout, rheumatism, sciatica, gastritis, leprosy, lice, deafness, dental infections, or remorse.
We don’t know what it was, but the word Paul used to describe this thorn carries the literal meaning of a stake. So what Paul is saying is that he has had a stake driven into his flesh. Disuptive wouldn’t you agree?
God’s grace was sufficient for Paul and it is sufficient for us as well.
III. The provision in the disruptive moment.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." vs. 9
Paul didn’t want this any more than you or I want bad news, bad reports and pains and sufferings. He asked God three times to remove it. But God said no. In the midst of this trial, God would provide an abundance of grace. Praise God.
IV. The Product of the disruptive moment.
"That the power of Christ may rest upon me....For when I am weak, then am I strong." vs 9-10
God said "you will have all the grace you need to do what I have called you to do."
The weaker we are, the more His grace is revealed.
V. The perspective of the disruptive moment.
"Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
I am not the man I used to be. I too have suffered and I have felt my share of pain.
The story is told of a soldier in WWII. He was running from the enemy and found some caves in the side of the mountain. He went inside one of the caves to hide. As the enemy soldiers were approaching, he began to ask God for help, to some how cover the entrance with a rock or boulder. But a small spider began to spin a web across the entrance. He questioned God, but then he understood. When the enemy sees the web over the opening they will believe no one entered here.
God takes the small things to confound the wise.
In you pain and suffering,instead of looking for a way out or questioning why me God, maybe we should see what God is doing.