In reading 2 Corinthians today about Paul’s thorn in the flesh some things occurred to me. Much speculation has been made over the centuries about what his thorn may have been but all you really need to know is that something challenged him ‘in the flesh’ that God did not remove. He asked God to take it away three times. I often marveled that he only asked three times. How often do you ask for a challenge to be removed from your life? I know I certainly exceed the three time pattern or request concerning the challenges in my life!
How often have you heard or declared, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness?” How often have you heard or decreed, “For when I am weak, then I am strong?” I suspect you have both said and heard each of these statements quite a bit. They are empowering and encouraging as you walk through many of life’s storms.
Now, how often have you said or heard, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake?” Re-read these two sentences a few times. They are sandwiched in between the ‘sufficient grace’ and ‘when weak, I am strong,’ statements.
As many sermons as I have listened to over the decades and as many Christians as I have heard speak over the years I personally have only heard one sold out follower of Christ express this. This individual is severely challenged physically yet lives, “…that the power of Christ may rest upon him…for Christ’s sake.”
Unfortunately many have been fed a prosperity Gospel that promises instant healing, financial blessing and more if you choose to follow Jesus Christ and make Him the Lord of your life. This is so out of balance. Does God heal? Yes. Can He bless you financially? Yes. However, these are not the quid pro quo for deciding to follow Him.
To truly be sold out to Christ has a very steep price attached. Jesus Himself tells us to “count the cost.” It requires leaving all, taking up your cross daily and walking a very narrow path to follow Him. Few find this path and walk it out for it is difficult.
All this being said, I have lived on both sides during my life: in the world and in the Kingdom. I can assure you without a doubt that the latter far exceeds the former. So, if you have not made a decision to follow Christ, make it today for the time is so very short. If you have lapsed in your commitment to Him, recommit today for the time is so very short.
Keep believing. Keep standing on His Word (the sword of the Spirit) for that is the only offensive weapon in the Armor of God. Pick up your sword! Believe without doubt. Stand therefore “…that the power of Christ may rest upon you…for Christ’s sake.” The choice is yours.
For it is written:
”And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“ Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”