“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
What does it mean that God’s grace is enough? I’ve heard people say this repeatedly over their life conditions and sicknesses as if they were given a life sentence for misery. When the Lord spoke this to Paul, He wanted Paul to know that He (The Lord God) was in control over everything. Paul had not been abandoned by the Lord in this trial, but he could rejoice and boast in this weakness, because it is here when Paul was weak, that God was strong. Let every part of your life glorify God – the good times and the struggles. When we are weak, God is strong . When we’ve fully given God the reign/ reins to our life and when pride is forced out of our heart, we will finally see that it is God who must be glorified in all things.
BITTER OR BETTER? IT’S UP TO YOU
I believe that life struggles have 1 of 2 outcomes: they can make us better (stronger, change us, better us and give us an opportunity to help) others or make us bitter (destroy us with bitterness, anger, anxiety and resentment). The choice is yours. You have the power to control your mind and your thoughts. Philippians 4:8 tells us and commands us to fix our thoughts and think of things that are “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”
When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-4
The Lord wants you to know that in whatever circumstance you are in:
- He has your today, your tomorrow and your future in His hands (So stop worrying! Cast fear and worry out of your mind)
- Today is 100% in His control of today and everyday (Trust in Him)
- Tomorrow is already taken care of so you don’t need to worry, fret or dread
- He will pull you out of stormy waters
- He is your refuge, your high tower and your safety
- He hears your cries to Him
Charles Spurgeon said that this thorn in the flesh was about destroying pride in Paul. Pride may have wanted to creep into Paul’s heart. That would make sense, not only for Paul but for each one of us. Pride is the sneakiest of all sins, it creeps in unawares without the victim knowing. Perhaps this thorn did keep Paul’s heart in check. When we consider Paul’s upstanding life (on his own account) his family heritage (Benjamite) and his authority before his conversion, he was a powerful and famous man. His life suddenly changes with a meeting with the Lord Jesus, supernatural events, visions, healings and visit to heaven – that could send a person today on a pride trip, don’t you think? Maybe or maybe not. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our knowledge, fame, and favor among people (and maybe God) that we no longer have an open door to learn new truths. When pride slips in the teaching, it can ruin the message. Pride is seen by everyone but the one who has it. It’s invisible but seen, it’s silent but heard.
Charles Spurgen December 8, 1872 “A thorn in the flesh” He (Paul) had been taken into the innermost part of the third Heaven—into that secret Paradise where Christ dwells with His perfected saints! He had entered into the nearest communion with God possible to a man while yet in this life. Should he not feel somewhat exalted? Surely exultation must fill that man’s bosom who has been brought within the veil to see his God and to hear the unutterable harmonies! It was natural that he should be exalted and it was not unnatural that he should stand in danger of being exalted above measure! Devout exaltation very rapidly degenerates into self-exaltation. When God lifts us up, there is only one step further—namely our lifting up ourselves—and then we fall into serious mischief, indeed.
I wonder how many among us could bear to receive such revelations as Paul had? O God, You may well, in Your kindness, spare us such perilous favors! We have neither head nor heart to sustain so vast a load of blessing. Our little plant needs not a river to water its root—the gentle dew suffices—the flood might wash it away. How many has God blessed in the ministry for a little while, or, if not in the ministry, in some other form of service? But, alas, how soon have they swollen with conceit and have become too big for the world to hold them! Puffed up with vanity, the honor put upon them has turned their brain and they have gone astray into gross folly, sheer vanity, or defiling sin…….He who thinks he is humble is probably the proudest man in the place. But there are some men in whom self-consciousness is so uppermost and so evidently powerful that you can see it in almost everything they do. It is their struggle, if they are Christians, to keep it down—but it will come up in the form of being very easily annoyed because they are overlooked in some good work—or in being easily irritated because they fancy that somebody is opposing them when that somebody never thought of them.
Beloved, above all things it is dangerous for a Christian to be exalted above measure, for if he is he will rob God of His Glory and this is a high crime! The Lord has said, “I will not give My Glory to another.” To give God’s Glory to graven images is bad, but to usurp it for ourselves is by no means better. I see no difference between the worship of a god of stone and the worship of a god of flesh. Self is as degrading an idol as Juggernaut or Kalee. God will not honor that man who retains honor for himself. The meek He will exalt, the proud He will abase. Self-exaltation is equally evil to the Church with which the man associates and the more prominent he is, the more pestilent is his sin…..Suppose Paul to have been lifted up—he would have been of small use to the Gentile Church afterwards. He would have sought himself and not the things of Christ! And very soon Paul would have become an object of parties and the leader of a sect—the cry of, “I am of Paul,” would have been sweet music to him and he would in all ways have encouraged those who adopted it—and a schism would have been the result. Had he been exalted above measure, he might have become a rival rather than a servant of Jesus. He might have disdained his lowly office and have aspired to lord it over God’s heritage. We might have heard of him as a right reverend father in God rather than as the servant of Jesus Christ and His Church. THORN (Spurgeon cont.) The Apostle says, “There was given to me a thorn.” Note that—”a thorn.” If the English word expresses the exact meaning—and I think it is pretty near it—you need not be at a loss to understand the simile. A thorn is but a little thing and indicates a painful, but not a killing trial—not a huge, crushing, overwhelming affliction, but a common matter— none the less painful, however, because common and insignificant. A thorn is a sharp thing which pricks, pierces, irritates, lacerates, festers and causes endless pain and inconvenience. And yet it is almost a secret thing—not very apparent to anyone but the sufferer. Paul had a secret grief somewhere, I know not where, but near his heart, continually wherever he might be, irritating him—perpetually vexing him and wounding him. A thorn, a commonplace thing such as might grow in any field and fall to any man’s lot. Thorns are plentiful enough and have been since Father Adam scattered the first handful of the seed. A thorn—nothing to make a man unbearable or give him the dignity of unusual sorrow. Some men boast about their great trials and there is something in feeling that you are a man greatly afflicted. But a thorn could not drive even this wretched satisfaction. It was not a sword in the bones, or a galling arrow in the loins, but only a thorn, about which little could be said.
Everyone knows, however, that a thorn is one of the most wretched intruders that can molest our foot or hand. Those pains which are despised because they are seldom fatal, are frequently the source of the most intense anguish— toothache, headache, earache—what greater miseries are known to mortals? And so with a thorn. It sounds like a nothing—”it can be easily removed with a needle”—so those say who feel it not and yet how it will fester! And if it remains in the flesh it will generate inconceivable torture. Such was Paul’s trial—a secret smarting, incessantly irritating, something—we do not know what.It was a thorn “in the flesh”—in the flesh. He was not tempted in the spirit—it was in the flesh. I suppose the evil had an intimate connection with his body. Many as the leaves of autumn have been the guesses of learned men as to what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Almost every disease has had its advocates. I was particularly pleased to find that Rosenmuller thought it to be the gout [Brother Spurgeon suffered from severe gout]—but then other critics think it to be weak eyesight, stammering, or a hypochondriac tendency. Richard Baxter, who suffered from a very painful disorder which I need not mention, thought that the Apostle was his fellow sufferer. One Divine is of the opinion that Paul endured the earache and I generally find that each expositor has selected that particular thorn which had pierced his own bosom
You are surrounded by His lovingkindness, tender mercies and unfailing love When we fully understand the great depth of God’s grace, we know that we are on the Path He has prepared for us. I imagine it like this- a large supernatural cloak of the Lord’s Tender Mercies, Loving Kindness and Unfailing love that covers me. (TM, LK,UL)
1-He surrounds you with unfailing love.The Lord wants us to trust in His UNFAILING LOVE for us. His unfailing love protects us, leads us, covers us, rescues us, pursues us, is better than life, lasts forever, supports us, teaches us, silences our enemies, came through Jesus Christ
- Exodus 15:13“With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home
- Exodus 20:6But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
- Psalm 13:5But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
- Psalm 21:7For the king trusts in the Lord. The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling
- Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life
- Psalm 40:11 Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me
- Psalm 63:3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!
- Psalm 94:18 I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
- Psalm 119:64 O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees
- Psalm 143:12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant
- John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.
2- He surrounds you with Tender Mercies. He crowns you with Tender Mercies and He surrounds you with Tender Mercies that always protect you.
- Psalm 103:4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
- Psalm 119:77 Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your instructions are my delight.
- Psalm 40:11Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
- Psalm 69:16Hear me, O Lord; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
3- He surrounds you with Lovingkindness. His lovingkindnes preserves you and is always with you.
- Psalm 26:3 For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth
- Psalm 40:11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me
- Psalm 42:8 Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
- Psalm 119:159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thylovingkindness
- Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
The Grace of God
If the Holy Spirit lives in you, you can be assured that you are covered under Grace of God. The Lord wants you to know and understand that:
- He will get you through today and tomorrow
- All you need is His grace – that is knowing that His unfailing love, tender mercies, loving kindness covers you
- Don’t let the enemy fill you with fear, doubt, worry and hopelessness- you have been set free ; ”For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord (in you!) is, there is freedom.2 Cor 3:17
In a previous post on God’s Grace, I found, according to scripture, that grace is like a current or pathway that the Lord God has us on to keep us safe. We are the apple of His eye and He leads us to the life He has planned. He will turn your sorrow to gladness and crown you with everlasting joy. Psa56:8: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Though tough times may surround you, lift your head up for your redemption draweth nigh. Don’t let mans words fill you with fear and dread, trust in God. God’s word is always true. (romans 3) In your weakness, God will show Himself strong. Your sorrows will turn to joy and the troubles of today will soon be gone as He carries you though each day.
David’s prayers during tough times:
David had many struggles as Paul did. David always found a way to praise God even in the worst of circumstances. In death, in fear, in life, in rejection, in hiding, in despair – David would cry out for help, remember and recite God’s promises while praising the name of the Lord.
David’s prayer during storms and trials (from Psalm 42-43,142-143)
- Remember the Lord: He is your strength. He is your help. He is faithful and righteous
- Meditate on all His works and His words
- Muse on all the Works of His hands
- Praise Him, enter His gates with thanksgiving.
- Cry out to Him
- Declare His Good works
- Pour out your heart to Him
- Lift up your hands
- Take Shelter in Him
HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD:
- Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5 Romans 15:4 Matthew 5:4
- The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Ps 27:14 Ps 9:9
- Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all Ps 34:17-19
- Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: Is 26:3-4 Psalm 147:3 Ps 55:22
- But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.Isaiah 40:31,
- Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. James 4:10, 1 Peter 4:12, 5:7, 2 Peter 2:9
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 3:3 Ps 40:1-3