Oh, that thorn in the flesh syndrome. That persistent thing that seems like it will never be removed from your life. I would venture to say that most people have dealt with or are currently dealing with that one nagging thing that keeps . . . well, nagging you! That one thing that causes us to say, “Lord, if You would just move this one thing from my life, I would be alright.” Thorns are hurtful. They are irritating. And, they get in the way of the one who wants to enjoy the blossom. There is a beautiful rose on the end of the stem, but the thorns hinder the enjoyment, making it hard for one to really take in the beauty thereof up close and personal.
Oftentimes, when one is trying to enjoy the beauty of God’s promises, hurtful things arise. As one tries to draw nearer and nearer to Him, the thorns make it hard to hold on. The thorns “spring up and choke them,” Matthew 13:7. They choke out the way. Nevertheless, despite what our outside circumstances may be telling us, we are taught that we can still live the empowered life. Though we have “infirmities” (and we all do), “grace” is still at work. Grace – that unmerited favor, makes room when our own obstacles get in the way. And God says it is “sufficient.” It is enough.
There is only one man who lived in this world perfectly and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us are surviving off of God’s grace. We depend on it everyday though we are undeserving of it. He has empowered us through our Lord Jesus Christ to progress on this journey despite all of our short-comings. Every obstacle that we face in life is not going to be moved. Oh, how I wish it would be. (Don’t judge me! You know you wish every obstacle you face would be moved, too.) But, what the apostle Paul is teaching us is that we can still succeed in Christ. We can still have a blessed Christian life through His power that “rest upon” us.
Have you ever played tag as a kid? Somebody tried to tag you and get you out, but you gave them the slip and got away. Have you ever in a victorious romp stuck you thumbs in your ears, while waving your fingers and chanting, “Na, na, na, boo, boo?” Paul had a victorious romp of his own. After he prayed and realized despite all he was going through the grace of God was still at work in his life – and, that God’s strength was being made perfect in Paul’s weakness, Paul declared, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities.” Paul was saying, tag me if you will, but God was working it out for him!
Don’t you love that? Despite it all God is still at work in us and through us. He is perfecting some stuff and we can rejoice with Paul. (Just don’t do the chanting, you are too old for that – tee, hee.) We are not rejoicing because of trouble, or hurt, or anything like that. We are rejoicing because we believe in God’s grace, and that allows the power of Christ to rest upon us because we have yielded to Him.
The empowered life is one that yields to Him and recognizes it is His strength being perfected in us. The empowered person can still push forth knowing that God is still at work, even through the hardest of times. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. The hurt may not be over but it’s as if God is saying, “I have all you need to make through.”
Talking about empowerment can very easily cause one to divert and take a humanistic view. But, I’ve really strived to keep this God-centered. Everything we need is in Him and when we can really grasp hold of that, then are we truly empowered.