walk in the word
Last week we looked at changing the way we think about difficult situations (or thorns) in our lives. This week we look at praying for God’s will in the midst of our thorns.
Although we know that God allows thorns into our lives for our ultimate good, we do not always allow them to accomplish their purpose. We pray, “Take it away, God! Get this out of my life! I can’t deal with it anymore!” And if He doesn’t take it away, we get miffed about it.
Paul’s thorn was so painful that he prayed fervently for its removal. “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Jesus did the same thing when he asked the Father if there was any way to remove the suffering He was about to face on the cross (Matthew 26:36-46). But God responded to both of them the same: “Your suffering is not going anywhere.”
This shows that it is not wrong to ask God to remove our thorn. Sometimes He will. But it also shows that God sometimes allows our thorn to remain—at least longer than we would like. That’s because God uses suffering to build our character and to display His power and, most importantly, to bring us close to Himself.
Do you remember when you were a kid? Your parents would do something, and you’d be like, “What is wrong with them? This is not making any sense. Man! If they would just get a clue!” I remember my mom having this thing for turnips and cauliflower. I was so sure in my heart that she was wrong; there was no way a kid should have to eat that stuff. I thought the same thing about homework. “I was at school all day. Now I have to come home and do more?” I thought the same thing about medicine. “I’m going to survive. I don’t have to taste that garbage. I don’t want it in my mouth.”
Here’s the point: Kids think they know so much, but they do not see the big picture. Likewise, as God’s children, we tend to look at the thorns in our lives and think that His plan is not a good one. But we don’t know what God is doing. We don’t know why He prevents some things and allows others. What we do know is that God is wise and that He always does what is best. If He allows a painful thing to come into my life, He has an incredibly good purpose for it. Pain has a good purpose, if I will allow it.
Look at God’s response to Paul’s request: “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). That’s it—that’s the whole response. When Paul asks God to take the thorn out of his life, God says, “I’m not going to remove the thorn. Instead, I’m going to do a favor for you that you don’t deserve. It’s going to be everything you need.”
What do you think is the best part there? I think the best part is “for you.” This is not some general distribution of generic help. God says “My grace is sufficient for you. You are going through something really different than what she is going through, so I have packaged up all the favor that you need.” This shows that our God is incredibly interested in each one of us as individuals. He knows our thorn. He knows what we need. And He supplies enough strength.
You say, “Enough for what?” Enough to have complete victory over the thorn that God has allowed into your life. Enough so you can get through it; so you can get past it; so you can get on top of it and put your foot on its throat and say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). God is not interested in some kind of limp, get-by, somehow-make-it-to-the-finish-line thing. God is interested in victorious, overcoming, super-conquering believers. That’s the grace He provides. Not enough just to survive. Not enough just to get by. Not enough to just make it. Enough to succeed. Enough to be victorious. Enough to have supernatural joy in the midst of anything He allows us to go through. That is the grace that God makes available to us
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