Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)
By Edmond Ng
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Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! (2 Corinthians 12:7 NAS)
"Ow! I've got a thorn in my flesh!" Sue exclaimed in pain as she held on to the stalk of rose she has plucked from the plant for her mom. "Help me mom, it's hurting badly! What shall I do, mom? Shall I try to remove it?"
"Of course we'll have to remove it, darling! Here, let me help you."
It is perfectly normal for many of us to react the same way as the girl in the anecdote. All of us want to remove whatever is hurting us as quickly as possible because it is an instinctive action to rid ourselves of pain. Not all 'thorns' in life however can be removed just as we wish, and sometimes we may have to live with a scar for the rest of our lives.
Life in the real world is not all a bed of roses. Amid the beauty of flowers like the roses are many thorns. There will always be certain hurts in life that cannot be removed and may remain with us permanently. Physical ailments, loss of someone we loved, or the deliberate hurts caused by someone who dislikes us are some examples of long term or permanent thorns in the flesh. What then shall we do with such 'thorns'? Shall we try to remove them or live and bear with the hurt? What if it is something we cannot remove or someone who is displeased with us? Do we curse God and die (Job 2:9-10), or do we like Job of the Old Testament say, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21 NAS)?
If our thorn in the flesh is someone who is unhappy with us, let us work towards reconciling with that someone (Matthew 5:23-25). If it be one who is a messenger of the devil sent to torment us, let us like the apostle Paul implore of the Lord three times to remove the adversity, but if God's answer is for us to be perfected in weakness through suffering, then let us learn to live by God's grace in His sufficiency that we may not exalt ourselves, but that the power of Christ may dwell in us (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). If the thorn is physical, mental or emotional, then let us again be like Paul to implore God to remove the hurt or pain, and if God heals us, praise and thank Him, but if not, then let us learn to bear and live our lives victorious in Christ (Daniel 3:16-28).
Help us dear Lord to stay strong in the face of thorns in our lives, not to give up even when we feel our hurts are overwhelming and tormenting. Teach us to be like Job and Paul to take the thorns in our lives in stride, knowing with full confidence that Your grace is sufficient for us. Lead us to the place we can find relieve Lord, and remove from us the thorns, yet not our will, but Yours be done. Comfort us in our pain Lord that we may be perfected in weakness. Keep us from exalting ourselves Lord, that Your power may dwell in us and be revealed through us.
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