Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!
At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.
Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 (The Message)
We all have them in a multitude of shapes and sizes.
The Apostle Paul couldn’t understand why he had them and asked God to remove what Paul referred to above as a handicap, a limitation, and in other translations as a “thorn in the flesh.” Some commentators suggested the “thorn” was a disease, a physical weakness, or perhaps severe headaches and still other commentators suggest that it was some kind of sexual temptation, or spiritual temptation.
No matter—Paul believed that there were things keeping him from becoming all who he should be and from doing all that what God wanted him to do. But God saw it as a way to keep Paul from becoming self-centered or arrogant. Through his “handicaps” Paul was reminded of who he was and how much he needed to be dependent upon God. He was linked interdependently with Him—yoked in partnership as it were—similar to a reference to the way Christ referred to His relationship with us in the Gospel of Matthew 11: 28, 29 (“Come unto Me…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”).
God was reminding Paul that no matter what was going on in his life—no matter how weak, energy empty, doubtful, or down he felt—no matter the “limitation” he felt he experienced—God’s grace and power was and is sufficient. Through it all, Paul was reminded that God’s power always remained constant, available and stronger than anything else in all creation—so that through his weakness, and through our weakness as well, God’s power becomes even more apparent.
One writer suggests that God does not necessarily give us a reason for what we go through, as He did not give Paul a reason for the pain he felt at times, or the heartaches or imprisonments, maltreatment or beatings. And that writer goes on to point out that God assured Paul, that with Him, whatever he went through would not diminish his impact on the world—but rather through Him, with Him and His power—his impact in the world would be expanded. And we know it was.
And that’s God’s assurance for us as well. Maybe we’re struggling with temptation or doubt in our life. Maybe someone has hurt or offended us and we can’t get past it. Maybe we’ve fallen short of a goal while others watched us. There’s something we need to change in our lives—and habit that ties us down with no way up. Maybe we find ourselves always try to live up to someone else’s expectations or trying to be someone we’re not.
There are things we struggle with or need to change in our lives, which we have finally come to realize that we cannot do on our own or by ourselves. These are things—thorns, handicaps, limitations—which can and should turn us toward the One who can help us, change us, and lift us over whatever it is we face.
The inclination to do wrong is a handicap which began with original sin in the Garden of Eden, but through God’s strength and guidance we can find ourselves doing more right than wrong. Temptation tries to get us off track, but with God’s power you won’t succumb to its evil wiles anymore. We can overcome the limitations of a few bad breaks or bad luck when we remember that God can lift our feet up on a solid rock. The thorn of yearning to be someone we’re not, and trying to live up to other peoples’ expectations of us, has pierced us for the last time—when we will let God gently take us by the shoulders and turn us so we can look in the mirror at the wonderful creation He made us to be.
All to make us more the person He created us to be—with Him.
Embrace those difficulties, those limitations, handicaps, thorns in your life, and give them to Him—for your good and His glory.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2013. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.