2 CORINTHIANS 12:9 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Oct 24-31)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
SERIES INTRO: This is the 6th part in a new series looking at the concept of Grace. What is it? Grace in Christian theology is “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings” (Google dictionary). Grace is a hard word for us to understand. However, no word in the Bible is perhaps more important for us to understand. It is the foundation that underpins our understanding of how Salvation works and how God interacts with Believers. Let's spend some time trying to understand God's wonderful grace.
THIS WEEK: Last time, we discussed what "sufficient" grace can look like in a Believer's life. This week, we're continuing to look at this "sufficient" grace to learn more about why it exists. It is clear from Scripture that "sufficient" grace often leaves mortal life less than pleasant. That's because a "thorn" develops in your flesh, and it is tormenting - it could be illness, injury, persecution, temptation, etc. God doesn't give us thorns, but He does allow them. Thorns don't kill you, but they do rob your life of enjoyment, and they can cause you to wish you were dead.
Think of this analogy: you're walking barefoot down a garden lane - you're about a mile from home. You are enjoying the fresh air and the sights and sounds. You see a beautiful sunset forming and you're filled with awe and wonder. You're so thankful you're alive, and you reflect how blessed you are to live in a wonderful house, own lots of land, drive a nice car, eat apple pie every evening, and have a full fridge of soda. You're overcome with a sense of accomplishment and pride. In the middle of these thoughts, you suddenly step on a thorn. Instantly, all those thoughts vaporize. You are in pain! Now, you don't care about the smells, sights, or sunset. You don't care about your house or your car - you wish you had less land so you weren't so far from a pair of tweezers! You don't care about any of it - you just want to get that thorn out! But you find that it is too deeply set in your foot. You're going to have to walk with it all the way home! Each step brings you pain and blocks out your thoughts. Your entire walk back to your house is a constant reminder of the pain. Now, your only thought is the hope you have of getting the thorn out. That becomes your life. You're whole walk back through all that natural beauty doesn't touch you at all. The smells of baked apple pie or the thoughts you had about a cool soda don't matter. You just want to get free from the thorn and have your foot restored. As we've discussed before, God gives grace in different ways - some people may have seemingly thorn-less walks and some people are given joy and happiness in their walk with their thorn. But for the Believer walking the path of "sufficient" grace, their is little joy.
This is the analogy of Believers who have a thorn in the flesh and are only given "sufficient" grace to deal with it. For Hannah, David, and the woman with a bleeding problem (Matt. 9:20), they were focused on what they didn't have because of their thorn. For Hannah, that was a son - her entire life was focused on this pain. David begged God to give him relief from his enemies who robbed him of happiness in his life. For the woman with the bleeding problem, it was to be physically healed - she'd do anything to find relief. In these examples, the thorn wasn't permanent. It eventually was removed, but it was painful while it lasted. For others, the thorn seems to have been permanent, as in Paul's case where his thorn focused him entirely on spiritual labors. But for Job and Jeremiah, their thorns were so bad that while they had them, they were past the point of no return - they were sharply focused on the only remaining hope they had - the resurrection and eternity.
God allows thorns in our lives, and He gives us "sufficient" grace to deal with them, which doesn't mean the thorns go away - it just means we can keep walking down that lane of life, rather than jumping off a cliff. We don't always know why God allows thorns with only "sufficient" grace. It might be that He is building a testimony in our lives or teaching us something or focusing us on eternity. Scripture does give us a few of those answers. God allowed a thorn in Paul's flesh so that he wouldn't exalt himself. Paul had to deal with pain in his flesh while he was healing the flesh of others - that had to be humbling. Job was afflicted in his flesh to bring glory to God by proving satan wrong. His story was also a testimony of endurance by God's grace, and his name will be remembered and honored through all time. Jeremiah endured torment so that he could offer us a testify of God's Holiness and judgment for sin. These three men had their lives focused on spiritual matters by the thorn that robbed them of happiness in the flesh.
We don't always know why thorns are allowed in our lives and why we are only given "sufficient" grace to deal with them. But we do know that it will all work together for our good and for God's glory. Great is the reward for the suffering servant who endures by the grace of God.
May we praise our God for a Savior like Jesus, Who knows the difficulties we go through in this life! Even so, Amen.
Other verses to consider:
“Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.’ But Hannah replied, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation’” (1 Samuel 1:12-16).
“A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, ‘If I just touch His garments, I will get well’” (Mark 5:25-28).
“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from those who do iniquity And save me from men of bloodshed. For behold, they have set an ambush for my life; Fierce men launch an attack against me, Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord” (Psalm 59:1-3).
“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! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope. Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men” (Lamentations 3:19-33).
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, For a godless man may not come before His presence” (Job 13:15-16).
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24).