No, Paul – you are just going to have learn to put up with it!
This article is effectively, ‘Paul, Timothy, Sickness & Healing – Part III’. However, I have given it a different title, because although connected, it is really a different topic. In ‘Paul, Timothy, Sickness & Healing – Part I‘, I wrote about the ‘thorn in the flesh’ which afflicted Paul and I showed that the thorn was in fact a demon and not a physical ailment – if you disagree, go read that article in order to understand. In 2 Corinthians 12:8 Paul describes how he prayed about the ‘thorn in the flesh’: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away“. The traditional reading of God’s answer, is words to the effect of, “No, Paul – you are just going to have learn to put up with it! But my grace will help you with that“.
Christians have lived with the thinking that we cannot do anything about our problems.
Throughout the years, generally speaking, that is the way that Christians have lived – with the thinking that we cannot do anything about our problems; whether they be lack of money, sickness, disability, stress, depression, or whatever. The plus side being that the grace of God can help us to live with them. But is that really true, that the grace of God just helps us to grin and bare it? Is the grace of God really just there to help us handle the curse? First of all, let’s look at what God actually said. Here are some different translations of 2 Corinthians 12:9:
- “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (King James Version)
- “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak” (Good News Translation)
- “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely” (J.B. Phillips New Testament)
- “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (New Living Translation)
God is saying that we need to stop trying to do things in our own strength.
Having seen what God said, we next to establish what God meant; and in order to do that we will have to explore the word ‘grace’. But first, let’s look at the part about God’s power being made perfect in weakness. What God is saying here, is that we need to stop trying to do things in our own strength. It is then that we can become truly strong, because we are allowing God to work through us. Paul explains this in verse 10: “For when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]” (Amplified Bible). The same message is contained in the verses below from the King James Version:
- “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13)
- “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10)
- “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29)
- “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31)
if we talk about how weak we are, then we are going to stay weak.
There is power in the words that we use – if we talk about how weak we are (in whatever area it may be), then we are going to stay weak. But the Bible does not say, “Let the weak say, I am weak”. The Bible says, “Let the weak say, I am strong” (Joel 3:10) – which doesn’t mean we are supposed to lie, it means that by faith we are to declare that we are strong. We may feel weak, but by faith we can boldly declare, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Our feelings of weakness and inadequacy are just an opportunity for the strength and power of God to operate in our lives. David knew that he stood no chance against Goliath in his own strength, but that was fine, because David was not relying on his own strength (or lack thereof) – David was relying on God’s strength, and because of that David overcame.
I have given you the weapons – use them!
I could say a lot more about our weakness and God’s strength, but let’s move onto the word ‘grace‘ and look at a couple of instances where the Bible mentions grace:
- Luke 2:40 says of Jesus, “…and the grace of God was upon him”. The Common English Bible translates the same sentence as, “and God’s favor was on him“. So God’s grace is God’s favour, and God’s favour does far more than help you put up negative situations.
- John 1:16 says, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace”. Look at the same verse in The Living Bible: “We have all benefited from the rich blessings he brought to us—blessing upon blessing heaped upon us!” The statement “My grace is sufficient for you” is beginning to sound far more encouraging!
Grace is a huge topic, but one way to explain it, is that grace is everything that God sent Jesus to accomplish for you. When God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you“, God was saying, “Paul, I’ve given you the Name of Jesus, I’ve given you the power of the Blood, I’ve given you authority over the devil. I have given you everything you need to defeat the devil yourself. I am not going to do this for you Paul, I have given you the weapons – use them!”
The grace of God is not there to help you put up with adverse situations.
The grace of God is not there to help you put up with adverse situations. The grace of God is there to make you more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). It is the grace of God that enables you to overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb & the word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11). It is the grace of God that puts the devil under your feet (Psalm 91:13); rather than you being under his feet, hoping that the grace of God can help you keep smiling. The way that we understand God’s answer to Paul’s request to remove the ‘thorn in the flesh’ is of huge significance. Will we carry on praying ineffective prayers, begging God to help us, or will we take heed of what God was actually saying to Paul, and refuse to live ‘under the circumstances’ anymore? Will we stay the defeated Christians that Satan wants us to be, or will we determine to become who God says we are? Will we take authority over that thorn in the flesh and forbid from operating in our lives?
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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