Passage for Study: 2nd Corinthians 12: 1 – 10 … Linked for study …
My Journal for Today: I’m glad Swindoll is revisiting this passage in his exposé on Saul, who became Paul. I personally think we could park and preach here for many days; and I just looked ahead in Swindoll’s book; and that’s exactly what Pastor Chuck will be doing as we close out the month of October. So, get ready as we park here for a while.
And I love the word picture Swindoll uses to start his discussion about this thorn in the flesh, which became a storm of pain in Paul’s life. Swindoll writes, and it’s true, that on the high seas, especially in Paul’s times, a sailor knew to tie himself down on deck during a storm. He would secure himself to something solid with a rope so the raging waves could not wash him into the ocean. To do that, the sailor had to have learned that he was not strong enough to weather the storm. He had to set aside pride and humble himself to use the strength of something much more solid than himself. And here was Paul in the midst of a storm of pain, which God had allowed Satan to bring into his life.
And when I was first learning about this passage, I couldn’t help but think about Job, who strapped himself to God when Satan was allowed by God to bring all that pain into his life. Job’s Rock for his anchor was God, wasn’t it? And here was the Apostle Paul, who, by the way, had just experienced some extreme spiritual high after getting a vision of God’s glory in some way; and God allows Satan to brings this physical “thorn,” whatever it was, into Paul’s life. And you see what Paul does. He immediately goes to the One Whom he knows is capable of helping him deal with the pain. Yes, Paul, who was once Saul who had rejected Christ, now cries out to The Lord as the only One Who can help him deal with this storm. He anchors himself to The Rock in his storm of pain. Yes, with his anchor of faith, Paul anchors himself to God for help.
God, … being God, knew that Paul needed to learn – or relearn – the lesson that only in humility could Paul receive and use the grace that He, God, would freely offer Paul to anchor himself in this storm of pain. And so over and over and over again, Paul attaches himself to God with his anchor of faith in prayer; because Paul had learned, by this stage in his discipleship, that the grace of Christ was the only place to attach his tether of faith.
In fact, if you have a red-letter Bible, Paul quotes Christ directly, which is the only red-letter quote you will find in all of the Pauline epistles. You find it in that great line in 2nd Cor.. 12: 9, in which somewhere/sometime Christ had told Paul personally, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” And experiencing Satan’s storm of pain, Paul apparently learned the lesson that this storm of thorns was apparently necessary in his life so that he could deal with the pain. Job learned that lesson after faithfully going to God over and over again; and so Paul.
But now the question for us is, “Have we learned this lesson?”
My friend, when we have a storm of thorns come into our life, what do we do? Do we go the “Why me” questions first; or do we, in faith, strap our anchor to the Rock so that we can ride out the pain, praying to God saying, “What are You teaching me here, Lord?” Do we ask God what we can learn from the thorns, rather than why we’re going through the storm? I’m afraid all too often my default question is “WHY,” rather than “WHAT.” But here we see Paul had learned that God’s enabling grace is only released when we can set pride aside and come to our Lord, humbly, asking God WHAT we need to gather from the thorns of life.
I pray that we can lean that humility is the key to unlocking God’s strength when we don’t have the strength to weather the storms of life. Because only when we can do that will we be able to capture God’s strength from His grace to cover our human weakness.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, when the thorn storms come, may I be faithfully tethered to The Rock. Amen