I don’t know if you are like me, but when I want to accomplish something or get somewhere and for some reason I get hindered, delayed, impeded, encumbered, or inhibited in some way, it is really just plain frustrating! I wish I could always say and feel this obstruction is more of a divine opportunity (and sometimes I do) but many times my type “A” nature kicks in and I’ve got to accomplish something, get somewhere, check that deed off my to do list, or make some kind of progress. Many of us get annoyed and even upset when we can’t seem to move forward in life or make some kind of progress beyond just existing. We are built to grow and mature physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and we don’t like to be held back.
There are all kinds of things that can hold us back; when we have an accident, something devastating out of our control such as a natural disaster, or someone else makes a mistake like a neglectful boss or parent that hinders us. We can get aggravated that we have been thwarted. As well, when we mess up, take a wrong turn, make a bad choice, or even sin, it’s upsetting because we blocked our own progress. Another hindrance in life could even be a disability. I know I suffer from a learning disability (dyslexia in case you did not know) and honestly sometimes it’s very discouraging. Yes, I have asked the Lord to help me out, to remove it, miraculously intervene, but it still plagues me.
The Apostle Paul had some form of disability that he called a ‘thorn in the flesh,’ 2 Corinthians 12. Over the years, people have had all kinds of theories as to what this disability was. Some say it was an eye problem, some say it was a relational problem (a bad relationship with his wife), some say it was his appearance (saying he was not very handsome and somewhat odd looking), but we really don’t know. All we do know is he had something worthy of being called a ‘thorn in the flesh’ and it was enough that it humbled Paul.
But the point I want to make here is that though Paul was thwarted with this issue and quite frustrated over it, he sought to let God’s grace, love and mercy compensate. Listen to how Paul dealt with his issue:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
There is a lot in this passage, and please read it over a few times, asking God to bring out the things He wants you to gain. But what hit me was Paul’s release of his desire for God’s desire. It’s like Paul is all geared up to do as much as possible for God and yet this huge weight is holding him back or at least slowing him down, and all he wants is the freedom to soar for God. Yet God had a different plan that included Paul being frustrated, seen as weak and not accomplishing Paul’s dreams, but instead accomplishing God’s purposes and plans. Now that’s a challenge!
God even has a purpose in my frustration, my issues, my disabilities, and maybe I should be looking more to God and His grace and mercy and purpose and plan, than my progress. Hmmm, let’s chew on that for a while. God says “My grace is sufficient for you…”
Grace and Peace,