Strength unknown He will provide
Christ in us, our cornerstone
We will go forth in grace alone.
This summer Brooksyne will be serving as a short term missionary at a camp sponsored by Joni and Friends up in the Poconos at Spruce Lake Retreat Center. The camp is for families with children who have disabilities. For many years we have appreciated the ministry of Joni Erickson Tada. Her ministry has inspired and touched so many who would very likely never have heard of her apart from her diving accident at age 17 in 1967, leaving her a quadriplegic.
Our lives are enriched as we observe and learn from those, like Joni, who endure and overcome a life-transforming trial. We are presently praying for and observing the overcoming faith of a friend in his mid-fifties who was recently diagnosed with ALS. He recently reported a less than encouraging report after a visit to Johns Hopkins and wrote, “[The diagnosis] does confirm there is no quick fix here. But THERE IS ONE who can turn this around. As for family and friends – thank you for so many expressions of love and support. Cards, meals, visits and calls. So many. I am a blessed man.”
You surely know of others who have had similar trials, but by God’s grace they rejected bitterness and opted for being used in a way they might never have imagined nor desired, but for the grace of God.
The apostle Paul received tremendous assurance from the daily text after a time of prayer that seemed to go unanswered. He was dealing with his “thorn in the flesh”. Much speculation has been made regarding the nature of this thorn, with a variety of interpretations offered. However Paul simply does not disclose the details, although it’s likely his original readers would have already known, due to their personal association with him.
Warren Wiersbe observes, “God did not give Paul any explanations; instead, He gave him a promise: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ We do not live on explanations; we live on promises. Our feelings change, but God’s promises never change. Promises generate faith, and faith strengthens hope. Paul claimed God’s promise and drew on the grace that was offered to him; this turned seeming tragedy into triumph. God did not change the situation by removing the affliction; He changed it by adding a new ingredient: grace.”
Robert Morgan writes, “If you have a red letter Bible, just thumb through the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, looking for any words that show up in red letters. Those are statements from the lips of Christ Himself, and when you read them you can just imagine Jesus appearing and speaking personally to Paul; and furthermore, think of Jesus speaking personally to you. Those who heard Him when He labored on earth said that no one ever spoke like He did, for He taught with authority and not as the Pharisees or the scribes. That’s the way He speaks to you and me, and so this is a personal message from Jesus, in red letters to your heart, and He says, “My grace is sufficient for you”.
This verse of assurance has brought comfort to scores of believers through the church age. I recall the day before my father had open-heart surgery in 1997 that he had read this passage and it spoke personally to him regarding his “thorn”. We generally interpret the thorn to be representative of a trial. I consider the lack of specific identity by Paul regarding the nature of his thorn to be a part of God’s design, for our trials truly take on many forms and God’s grace is sufficient for each of them!
Are you dealing with a “thorn in the flesh” or are you close to someone right now who feels the piercing pain of a “thorn”. First aid such as the ointment of God’s grace can be applied which is absolutely sufficient to sustain you through the trial at hand. Not only did Paul keep his faith, but He thrived in His pursuit of God and we, along with millions over the centuries, are the benefactors because of it. As you endure the trial and pursue God you too will be stronger and God will be glorified through your faithful endurance.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is in our weaknesses that Your power becomes more visible in our lives. The “thorn in our flesh” is representative of those trials common to all followers of Christ. We call out for deliverance and yet endure the discomfort and affliction as a true soldier of the faith, all the while being “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer”. Because of the blood of Christ we can overcome the opposition and triumph in our faith to the glory of God the Father in whose name we pray. Amen.