Let me ask you this question, what does a miracle look like? I know how I would have answered that question not to long ago but this passage written by Paul, has caused me to rethink what that answer is.
So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT)
Just after being diagnosed with Takayasu’s Arteritus, I kept telling everyone that I felt like I was awake for the first time in a long time. Why? My Christianity was in hibernation, only to be awakened in crisis. I have learned that if we don’t use our “faith muscles” everyday they will be sluggish and sleepy when we need them. We will have to dust off our Christianity like a long-forgotten tool and hope that we remember how to use it and pray that it will “start on the first pull.” I see so many people in the same place that I just was and want to scream at them to wake up! I have come to think of the Holy Spirit as caffeine for a drowsy spiritual life. Today, I am living my life steeped in God’s word and close communion with Him. But it’s only because it took a crisis to wake me up. The problem that I know I struggle with is that I get too easily complacent and self-sufficient. It becomes a slow fade from utter dependence to “Oh yeah, hey God I could use you today.”
Let me break down my walls of pride and tell you that God isn’t interested in my eloquence as a speaker or a writer. He is only interested in my surrendered life. I am no good to Him, my message holds no weight, unless He, and He alone, is the author of it. And if I am brutally honest, with myself as well as the rest of you, without a diagnosis of Takayasu’s Arteritus, and the continuation of battling an incurable disease (which means no miracle) my pride and self-sufficiency would still be running my life. And my fear is that with a miracle, those worldly crutches would begin to eventually, over time, creep back in to their supreme position.
Paul tried to get rid of the thorn. He even prayed three times that it might be removed. Three times he made a request for its removal. How many times has you prayed for God to remove whatever your “thorn” is?
Jesus said ask (keep on asking) and it shall be given unto you. He said knock (keep on knocking) and it shall be opened unto you. He said seek (keep at it) and ye shall find. We will get what we ask IF IT IS IN GOD’S WILL.
I John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything, according to his will, he hears us.
All prayer is answered. God either says YES or NO. Sometimes the YES is not always as we expect or want it. Many times God says, “If I do not rid you of the trouble, I will give you grace for victory over it”.
Denial of Paul’s request did not mean destitution but deliverance. The weight was not lifted but greater strength was given to bear it.
Life hurts sometimes, no doubt about it. When it does I have learned that I need to step past my pride and self-sufficiency and have the confidence in my weakness to ask for help when I need it and then have the humility to receive it on God’s terms so that his perfect strength can be displayed. I don’t need to understand it, I don’t need to agree with it. In fact, I don’t have much choice in the matter if I am going to be obedient.
The Lord gave Paul an answer to his prayer in 12 words.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness”.
Helplessness and weakness…I used to hate them but God loves them and because of them God is able to use me. Maybe this is my miracle…I know for certain it is a blessing!