June 14, 2022
“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded...”
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2 Corinthians 12
“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7b-9a
I must confess, I hate the gym. I simply like eating chocolate donuts more than loading iron ones onto the ends of steel bars and pushing them off my chest.
What motivates people to pump iron? Are these people ever satisfied with their bodies? I’ve never heard of anyone walking into a gym, catching their reflection in that mirrored wall (which happens to be in all gyms), and calling their friend on the cell phone, “Dude… I just went to the gym. Guess what? I’m done. I have the perfect body!!”
Spiritually, we all have sin issues to work out. Nobody is perfect. True, in a saving sense, we are perfect in God’s eyes through the atoning work of the Messiah. But, who are we kidding? We still sin and personally undergo God’s discipline as a result. The Bible says Satan continually accuses us before God, while Jesus intercedes for us.
“Then I heard a loud voice in Heaven say: ‘the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah has now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night.’” Revelation 12:10
“My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Messiah Jesus the righteous One.” 1 John 2:1
If we didn’t sin, how could Satan accuse us? Honestly, we give Satan plenty of ammo to accuse us with!
Paul allows us insight into his personal struggles. The Bible doesn’t list Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Perhaps, the omission was intentional, so we could insert our individual “thorns in the flesh.” Thus, Paul’s struggle becomes everyone’s struggle. Whatever it was, Paul’s struggle must have been significant because he said it came by way of a messenger of Satan; and Paul prayed three times that God would take his “thorn” away.
God’s response to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” God’s exhortation is the same for us since we have not suffered any temptation other than what is common to man. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
There are things about God (and ourselves) we cannot learn until suffering exposes them. “No pain, no gain,” they say at the gym. Of ourselves, we learn exactly how much we can bear. Of Him, we learn to trust He will “spot” us, strengthening us by pushing our limits while bearing up the weight we lack the strength to lift.