Pastor’s Passage September 2021
I’ve felt quite cruddy ever since a blessed tech down at Essentia stuck a needle in my spine and drained 24.5 mls of spinal fluid from my back last Friday. I call him blessed because he made the experience about as comfortable as that procedure can be. He was drawing out that much fluid to run many tests trying to diagnose the condition which the doctors have been trying to pinpoint for the last 3 years or so. So far all the tests have come back negative. The side effects of the spinal tap along with the lack of answers have me feeling as discouraged as ever. What is God doing? Why does this situation just keep on going and going with no answers? I'll bet many of you have felt this way over the years. I think the Apostle Paul may know something about what I’m saying. Please prayerfully consider 2 Corinthians 12:1–10 (CSB)
“1Boasting is necessary. It is not profitable, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. 3I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I don’t know; God knows—4was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a human being is not allowed to speak. 5I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses. 6For if I want to boast, I wouldn’t be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, 7especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. 8Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul had obviously experienced such amazing things as he walked with God and started so many churches for Jesus Christ in addition to this amazing incident that he describes in the first half of our passage. I think it makes sense that even the godliest human being would be tempted to prideful arrogance after experiencing such amazing things with God in the ministry. So what does God do or allow in Paul's life in order to keep his heart right and humble? The answer is something that American Christians are terribly uncomfortable with. God in his perfect Providence brings some pain and suffering into Paul's life to accomplish His perfect will. Paul experiences what he calls a thorn in the flesh so that he would not exalt himself. And Paul cried out to God, pleading 3 times that the Lord might take away the thorn, the pain, the discomfort. God answered his prayer by saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” This is the Word of God! He says, My grace is sufficient! Do you believe that? Let us pray together for grace to believe and live this great truth for ourselves.