“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
We begin with the understanding that God’s perfect plan is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. (Romans 8:29) That is very good news, but this conforming process clearly must involve thorns. Why? Paul gives us the answer above: “… in order to keep me from becoming conceited.”
At the beginning of this letter to the Corinthians he gives us another reason: “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9)
Maybe you are not at all like Paul. Perhaps you have no issues with conceit, or relying on Self, instead of relying on Jesus. I do. On both fronts.
And it always gets me in trouble. On both fronts, I always slip away from the “life to the full, the life that is truly life,” that Jesus wants for me. (John 10:10 & 1Timothy 6:19)
So I now understand what the Holy Spirit is saying through Paul, when Paul arrives at this poignant conclusion: “9Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“For when I am weakened by a thorn, I must lean on and rely on Jesus, and then I become strong.”
“Weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties … frustrating friends, imperfect spouses, aggravating family, financial, physical, emotional:” that about covers it, doesn’t it?
God the Father, who loves us perfectly, said to Paul, and He says to you: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in … your … weakness.”
I had operated in my power for years. For years this was all I knew. Everything I had ever learned taught me this was the way, the only way, to operate. What was the alternative? My driving mantra was, “If I don’t, it won’t. If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”
My driving mantra has driven me into many a thorn bush.
But now, because my gracious Father has allowed, and even caused, quite a few thorns to stick in my side, I have learned the alternative: to shove aside my pride, and live with humble power.
Pride leads to “Prideful Impotence,” but humility leads to “Humble Power.”
May you learn that in your weakness, you can be strong in His strength. And may you be transformed from: “If I don’t, it won’t,” to If You don’t, it won’t.” And from: “If it’s to be it’s up to me,” to “If it’s to be true, it’s up to You.”
Note to all who read Oswald Chambers daily devotion “My Utmost for His Highest:” We have put together a podcast of 3 minute summaries of each daily devotion.
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