March 16, 2016
The Apostle Paul sought the Lord three times to take away his thorn in the flesh. God created us a body, soul and spirit. They are intimately connected. Our physical selves play a big part in our ability to move and live and be what we ought to be for Christ. Paul agonized over some kind of ailment which distressed and hindered him in his body to the point he was begging God to take it away. The Lord said no. Paul was given an affliction to teach him humility and dependence upon God. Paul himself said the affliction was to keep him from becoming self sufficient and to focus on being God sufficient. The Lord taught Paul through his physical ailment God’s strength could be found through his physical weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10: 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
This past week to the present I am dealing with a toothache. It is amazing how one small little place in my body can affect the whole. Even as I am writing this, I can still feel the residual ache from the dentist’s office. I am looking at having a root canal. Now hopefully when all is said and done I will be pain free. But what if I wasn’t? What if God allowed me to have a Pauline experience with physical affliction? How would I take it? How should I take it? I know there are some who are reading this who have to live daily with some kind of physical impairment. If we live long enough, the aging process guarantees all of us will have to deal with our physical abilities and powers being diminished to some degree…chronic pain, loss of mobility, sight, hearing, chemical imbalances and the list can go on and on.
Ultimately, we come to the realization how totally dependent we really are upon God for life and health. From the moments of our birth, we begin a downhill path towards the grave. The ravages of sin have guaranteed the death of our bodies. We should not be surprised when we have physical failures. It is part of the path we all must walk. Some seem to have a tougher time of it than others. We were not all created equal in our bodies. Some are stronger and some are weaker. All are infected with the seed of death.
I would like to suggest one way as Christians we can be thankful, praise God, and even go forward in a positive way in the midst of physical suffering. All we have to do is look to the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus was in the physical prime of life and sinless when he took on the penalty of sin and the ravages of death for you and me. No one can accuse the Lord of not knowing or understanding the reality of human suffering. He has drunk to the bottom of the cup the bitterness and fullness of human suffering. He took on our eternal judgment so our suffering here would only be temporal.
Dear Brother or Sister who is suffering today, by faith grab hold of the confidence we have in the Lord, and know this too shall pass. One day we cross over Jordan to the other side and there will be no more pain, no more dying, no more crying. But in the meantime, may God help us to look up and praise Him for his unspeakable gift. The ultimate cure for all is found in Jesus.
Because of Christ’s Love,
Pastor John Schofield