Holy Spirit, please take perfect control and teach us tonight in Jesus name… Amen
The Christian life is a wonderful experience. Is it the boldness you derived at the place of prayer that gives you confidence and readiness to challenge every devil? Is it the sweet hour of fellowship with the Holy Spirit that gives you insight or the communion and togetherness of brethren fellowshipping together?
But hey my dear ambassadors, is that all the Christian life entails? I would have loved my answer to be in the affirmative but I will only be deceiving you.
The Christian race is not without trials, persecutions, temptations, storms and hardship. The Christian life is not without problems, there is no immunity given to us by God from suffering and pain. Why? Because the world we are living in is a world of sin.
When men sinned in the garden, he got a curse of sorrows and struggles which became a curse for the world. Unbelievers experience death, sorrows and sickness and truthfully, even believers experience the same pain.
2Corinthians 12:1-7 please
2 Corinthians 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 12:7 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.
I remember something our prayer coordinator usually say and I quote, “for every new level, there is a new devil”
Paul the apostle in this text above had just gotten to a new dimension in the Christian race, he was taken to the third heavens but immediately after that great experience, the devil came with the thorn.
This is telling us that spiritual heights or levels doesn’t serve as immunity to trials, temptation or persecution. The devil is usually lurking around waiting for a believer to try him not minding who you are.
If he could come to Christ, our Saviour, then tell me, who is immune to his tactics?
However, in all, what keeps the believer going is Grace!
God’s grace is not the absent of problems or troubles, but strength through the fight.
God’s grace is sufficient to take us through any and all trails that we may face.
Yes, there might be darkest nights but grace take us through that darkest night with a smile. Yes, there might be cross but grace turns the cross to a crown making it easy and pleasing for us to carry. Yes, our strength may fail us but grace sustains us.
God do not allow believers to experience pain or suffering unless He has a divine eternal purpose for it. For every evil Satan plans for a believer, God designs and overrules it for good. Grace signifies the goodwill of us, gives us sufficient strength and comfort us in all our afflictions and distresses. (many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them from it all).
2Corinthians 12:7 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.
What is a thorn in the flesh?
In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, the word ‘thorn’ (skolops) shows “something which frustrates and causes trouble in the lives of those afflicted”.
Sometimes, thorn in the life of a believer is permitted by God either as a trial of faith, to crush down flesh and self or to bring glory to His name. As in the case of Abraham, Job (1:12) and Paul. For Abraham and Job, it was a trial of faith while for Paul, it was to crush flesh, to prevent him from been exalted above measure.
Apostle Paul had been taken to the third heavens, the tendency of pride to take over him was there, hence, to put self in check in his life, the Lord permitted the devil to buffet him. Most times, the trials you might be facing might just be a way to put self and flesh in check so you don’t get exalted above measure.
When Paul the apostle was confronted with the thorn in his flesh, he prayed, he prayed thrice, however, the answer he got might not be exactly what he expected, he might have desired the thorn to be taken away completely desiring complete healing but what he got was a promise “my grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
God would have taken the thorn away completely, at least that was what Paul had expected but the question is, if I take the thorn away, what then will be your testimony? That’s what God is asking us tonight, He allowed that thorn there to glorify His name, He allowed the thorn there so that through your testimony, men would glorify His name.
Our present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed through it. Look beyond the thorn and consider it a blessing, like Paul the apostle, glory and praise God even in that infirmity, look beyond the weakness, pain, trial and persecution to the glorious fruits that is coming out of it.
Examples of Thorn
- Hardness of the way. Numbers 21:4
Numbers 21:4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
Sometimes, you might struggle with a particular way and it seem as though that way is blocked, that is an example of a thorn in the flesh because it can get frustrating and strength consuming. Even as a Christian, you can experience hardness of a way, it’s the reality of the Christian life. The road is not all rosy, there are times that thorns may appear. Prepare your heart for that!
Yes, there are times discouragement will set in. Keep that in mind.
- Difficulty of tasks. Nehemiah 4:10
Nehemiah 4:10 And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
For Nehemiah, rebuilding of the temple wasn’t easy. He had oppositions, he had trials and physical assault even though he was doing the will of God. That you are doing the will of God doesn’t mean there won’t be opposition. Prepare for it!
- Prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:2,3
Psalms 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Haven’t you wondered sometimes how the wicked prosper in their own sight and you that fear God is struggling? Yes I have wondered about it. The truth is, there are things the wicked do that you as a believer can’t venture in and at times, it presses you down and wonder why God overlook their excesses. Bear it in mind that you might not get all that you desire at a point.
- Delay in fulfilment of desires. Proverbs 13:12.
There are many times you desire strongly for a thing as a Christian but the more you pray, the further it is from your reach. Note that, it is not all your desires that might be met especially if God knows you might wander away when you get that.
- Divine delays. Psalm 13:1; John 11:6, 21. Psalms 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
For Abraham, it was a divine delay of child birth in order for a promised child to be born. Note that, there might be delays in answers to prayers in the Christian race.
- Life test/trials and Prolonged trial. Genesis 22:2; Job 1:12
Psalm 6:3; Habakkuk 1:2; Zechariah 1:12
Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Psalms 6:3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
Like in the cause of Job, he had that thorn in his flesh for a very long time. Note that trials might be long tine or short time. You are tried doesn’t make you a lesser Christian, it only bring out a better Christian in you if you hold on to Christ!
- Suffering for righteousness. Acts 16:23,27
Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
The disciples of Christ had quite a lot of this, it was a thorn in their flesh but they didn’t let them sway or discourage them. Note that, you will definitely suffer for righteousness sake, if you don’t, then check if you are still a Christian.
These and many more are the thorn believers might experience in their journey in this world. So, when confronted with any of this, do not let it look strange to you.
What to do when experiencing a thorn
👉🏻Pray. Philippians 4:6; 2Corinthians 12:8.
“Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady.” When we are afflicted with the thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. We should continue earnestly in prayer even if there is delay in answers. Sometimes, troubles are sent to teach us to pray.
👉🏻Hold on to the promises of God. 2Corinthians 12:9
Remind God of His promises, read them out to yourself and get comforted in them.
👉🏻Exercise joy and praise God even in trials. 2Corinthians 12:10-12; Job 19:23-27
Like Paul the apostle, glory in that situation, thank God for counting you worthy to suffer for His name and praise Him for the privilege to partake in His sufferings.
👉🏻Control your tongue and watch your words. The best way to control your tongue when experiencing a thorn in the flesh is to keep shut and quiet. The human nature may tend to what to express what is felt within with words but in times like this, if word aren’t control, it might lead to either sinning against God or causing pain to others. Job 1:22; 2:9, 10.
👉🏻Take advantage of it to build your spiritual life. Affliction is often the time of our greatest spiritual growth. It is in the storm that the roots are forced to go deep. Afflictions helps to develop a deeper relationship between us and God. In discovering our personal weakness, we flee to the Rock of Ages for shielding.
When passing through thorns, it is a time to move closer to God and not a time to drift away from Him! Don’t be sway by thorns, they are meant to bring out the best in you and catapult you to an higher realm if only you hold on to Christ.
Remember, God’s grace is not the absent of problems or troubles, but strength through the fight. His grace covers all aspect of trials and more.
God’s grace is sufficient in the following areas:
👉🏻Needs and wants. Luke 5:5-8.
👉🏻Resisting the greatest temptations. 1Peter 1:6.
👉🏻When plans are frustrated. Acts 27:22-26.
👉🏻To comfort us even at the shadow of death. Psalm 23:4; 1Thessolonians 4:18.
👉🏻To restore and keep us in times of suffering and persecutions. Revelation 1:9_18.
👉🏻Bring joy in moments of sadness. 2Timothy 4:16-18.
👉🏻Bring strength in times of afflictions and weakness. 2Corinthians 4:8-18.
God’s grace covers every aspect of our life, all you need do is acknowledge the need and assistant of that Grace.
In conclusion, as believers, when we are weak in ourselves, when we feel the heavy weight of the thorn on us, when our strength begins to fail us, we are to go to Christ, tap from His ever sufficient and present strength, and enjoy the supplies of divine grace.
Grace is the favour and love of God in action. Grace is right now and it is sufficient enough for you, not just for Paul the apostle but for you! Is your thorn worse than that of Paul the apostle, God is saying, my grace is sufficient for you.
Talk to Him now and claim that grace. God bless you all