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Through "The Basics with Beth," Beth Jones is teaching the basics of God's Word to help you live a life you love and love the life you live! 


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What to do when life's not smooth

Tara Farrell

Let’s look at a familiar story today but with a fresh new perspective. I believe what you’ll learn from looking at it with a new lens will encourage you and strengthen you to keep on keepin’ on! Do you remember the story of “Paul’s thorn” from 2 Corinthians 12? Let’s look at the story together and then pull out the basic truths that will empower you:

“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’...” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NKJV). 

This account of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” has unfortunately been taught in such a way as to convey the idea that God gives or allows His people to experience a “thorn in the flesh” -- sickness and disease, poverty and lack, etc. -- in order to keep them humble or teach them a lesson. On top of that, when Paul asked God to remove the thorn, we have been taught that the Lord said, “No!” Seeing this account in that way will put you on the defeated Christian, roller-coaster kind-of-life. While this interpretation of the “thorn in the flesh” is common, is it accurate? I’d like you to consider a different angle. Let’s take a closer look at the basics on what the Bible tells us and what the Lord wants us to know about a “thorn in the flesh” and His grace.  

>>So then, what’s the deal with the thorn and this idea that God said “no” to removing it?

Let’s start by asking WHO and WHAT. Who sent the thorn in the flesh and what is it? The Bible specifically says the thorn was given by “a messenger of Satan.” So, who’s the author of this issue? The enemy -- not God. What was the thorn? Was it a sickness? A storm? No, we know from the Scriptures that this messenger -- this thorn -- buffeted Paul wherever he went. We know Paul experienced persecution and resistance throughout his journey. Paul’s thorn was continual buffeting through persecution and resistance to the gospel. 

The big question is WHY? Why did the devil send the messenger to buffet Paul? To keep him from being exalted and lifted up in pride? No! Actually that logic doesn’t make sense, does it? The devil wouldn’t want Paul to stay humble, he would want Paul to be more inflated and lifted up in pride, right? Satan sent the messenger -- the thorn in the flesh -- because he didn’t want Paul or the gospel message to be exalted or to spread any further. As a result, the devil sent constant persecution (as described in 2 Corinthians 11) to shut Paul down. The very last thing that Satan wants to happen is for the gospel to get proclaimed and the light of the glorious gospel to shine in people’s hearts. 

Now that we’ve cleared up the WHO, WHAT and WHY, let’s look at the did the Lord want Paul (and us) to deal with this thorn? As mentioned, Paul asked God to take this buffeting (persecution) away from him. Many interpret God’s response in these Scriptures as “No.” Is that true? The Lord didn’t say “No” -- rather, He told Paul that His grace was sufficient. In other words, He was reminding Paul to tap into God’s grace to withstand and overcome the persecution. The Bible tells us that persecution will happen (John 15:20) -- and while it is challenging, we have God’s grace and wisdom so we can stand strong and carry on with God’s purposes for our lives. God’s answer to Paul was to equip Paul with His sufficient grace so that he could be victorious in fulfilling his purpose in life, despite the persecution coming against him. Can you see that? 

So what “thorns in the flesh” have you experienced? What persecutions are happening in your life? What are you facing that’s trying to take you out and get you off your life’s best course? Just like Paul, you need to tap into God’s grace! His grace is the tangible deposit of His power, His inner strength and His ability. God freely gives His grace to us -- and it is sufficient! Have you asked and received more grace lately? Ask God today for more grace...He freely dispenses it from His throne of grace so that you can reign in life! (Hebrews 4:16 and Romans 5:17)

Say This: “Father, thank You so much for Your grace! Lord, I know there will be some challenges in life including persecution, and I know Your grace is sufficient to help me withstand and overcome those. Today, I ask You for abundant deposits of Your grace so that I can stay the course in sharing the Gospel and living out the purpose-filled life that You have for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”