2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NASB)
A Thorn in the Flesh
7 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 [a]torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 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 [b]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [c]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
A short metaphor from Pastor Melvin Newland:
There is an old story about a man in China who was walking on a rain slick road. He lost his footing & fell into a ditch filled with mud. He kept sinking deeper & deeper in the mud. The more he struggled to get out of the ditch, the deeper he sank.
As he was sinking in the mud Buddha came by. Buddha looked at him & said, “My what a predicament you are in. Here is a paper that tells you ten ways to get out of ditches.” The man started reading & he tried all ten ways to get out of the ditch, only to discover that the harder he tried the deeper he sank.
Then Confucius came along & looked at him, & said, “You are in a terrible condition, but I have good news for you. If you’ll take 5 steps toward me, I’ll take 5 steps down to meet you, & then together we will walk out of the ditch.”
But the man said, “I couldn’t even take the 5 steps. The more I struggled the deeper I sank in the mud.”
Then Jesus came by. Jesus looked at him, took off His crown & His royal robes, & got down in the ditch with him & He pushed him until his feet were on solid ground once again.
Here are a few examples from our Prayer Group Thursday night – examples of how our sisters and brothers found themselves in sinking sand and how they turned to God to find that solid ground (I have added a comment or two on a few of the stories):
“When I was hurt in an OJI, I thought I was sinking as low as I could go. I was lost, my future, my ministry was finished. No longer would I be able to work doing what I was doing.. I was sinking into a hole with NO bottom. Then God came along and said. Stand up, I have a job for you. I was then on solid rock and able to move forward.”
“I was sooo low, sad, done for, I pictured myself crawling on the ground to the Lord, just if I could hold onto the hem of HIS garment for strength and love!!!! I surrendered to him and put all my trust in HIM. His Love brought me through!!!”
“he has helped through despair and depression and has taught me to take each day at a time though it is hard with all the things going wrong 2 vehicles broken down – only Jesus could pull me up.”
“Believe it or not, I was on trauma call one winter during a terrible ice and snow storm. On my way to the hospital, the van started skidding crosswise down the middle of the highway. I couldn’t stop it. I literally took my hands off the steering wheel and said – out loud ‘Here, Lord, You do it because I can’t’. I swear to you all, the van immediately moved into my lane and I went on without a problem. I was able to witness to my coworkers when things slowed down.” Not only was she set on solid ground, she was able to witness to others afterward, thus bringing them also to find that solid ground.
“I wasn’t a strong person before God got ahold of me… how I got here originally was because a friend of mine gave me a link to the Peregrine Falcons in Pittsburgh, PA – from there to Hornby Island and from there to here! God does do some strange things to get us where He wants – and needs us to be!” Yes, our journeys to truth and fellowship all took interesting paths and we all have stood on solid ground and able to find that ground thanks to our Lord.
“Ten years ago I had breast cancer on both sides and my sugar was sky high. The surgeon didn’t want to do surgery with that condition, but did. When I went to get bandages changed two weeks later, I had not healed one bit. I was in bad shape and started going down hill. Like Cookie, they finally put the vacuum pack on me and it took 6 weeks to heal. Needless to say, I was beginning to think my time was going to be up. My daughter put me on a strict diabetic diet, which worked plus I lost weight. I played the song, “One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus” and trusted him soooooo much. I had the kind that will not return…Praise the Lord.” Ahh, she was able to find that solid ground through Jesus Christ and for ten years has been glorifying God for His mercy and grace.
Added to above: “Before surgery I was taken down to 2nd sub level of the hospital for a test, that would tell exactly what lymph nodes under my arms had cancer and needed to be removed. All of a Sudden, Jesus appeared up on the wall to my right and said, Frieda, I will be your physican. In a flash he was gone. I cried for him to come back. Mind you, we had a family circumstance that we allowed to keeps us away from church for a while. Right after Jesus left, the door swung open real fast it was a minister from our church, saying, “Good Morning Frieda. I’m so&so from the CHFBC and I came to pray over you.” OMG…my first questin was, “How in the world did you find me down here”? Funny..can’t hide patients from ministers. I was soooooo overwhelmed and Blessed. I will Never forget that scene and that room. Thank you Jesus for being with me. The second thing was God gave me the scripture, Psalms 6 to stand on. 1) O Lord, do not rebuke me in yur anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2) Be merciful to me , Lord , for I am faint; O Lord heal me, for my bones are in agony. 3) My soul is in anguish; How long, O Lord, how long? 4) Turn, O Lord, and deliver me: save me because of your unfailing love. No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave? . When it was over, the cancer Dr. came and told my husband & I that that the main cancer was in between the wall of a cell. Therefore, it COULD NOT SPREAD. OMG. Blessings again. He did deliver me and saved me. That was 10 years ago, and when I went to yearly check up this year, she released me and reassured me it would not come back there or any other place. I feel so Blessed and can’t think about this without praising Jesus for what he did with tears. Praise God.” And now she stands on solid ground. Faith and trust got her there.
“The wonderful thing is, whatever our ‘muck’ might be, all we have to do is call on His name and He is there. Thank you, Lord!”
“From sinking sand He lifted me.
With tender hands He lifted me.
From shades of night to plains of light.
Oh praise His name, He lifted me.”
That is what love means. It means that Jesus Christ has lifted us out of the muck & the mire of our sin, and He has put our feet on solid ground.
What extreme situation have you ever found yourself? What is your “thorn in the side?” How often have we said – this or that is a pain in the neck or a thorn in my side? We all have been in situations where we feel we are sinking and can not free ourselves. Often, we just want to give up and let the “mud” swallow us – a remedy to stop the pain, stop the guilt, stop the incidents. But is it? Can we just walk away or slip into oblivion and really think – this too shall pass – without any focus, any prayer, any faith? I just don’t think so.
If you never tried it; I do NOT recommend it. We are all like sinking sand. We have NO solid rock on which to stand – UNLESS – we have Jesus Christ in our life – unless we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. Then we do not have to fear the sinking sand. We know that the solid rock is right beneath it. How do we know this? God told us so. John 3: 16 – For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life. And Jesus told us so, “……….; John 11: 25 – 26: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
My friends, that is mercy, that is salvation, that is grace – love beyond measure. Grace is what keeps us from sinking deeper into the mire and lets us stand on solid ground
Today you sinned; tomorrow you will sin. You are forgiven; you are loved; you have eternal life. Fear not, God is traveling the path of life with you. He is holding your hand and sometimes carrying you. You will never do anything that can not be forgiven. Grace is yours always.
This path we are on is a learning experience. It hurts sometimes, and we sink into the sinking sand. It is good to know that the solid rock is right there and we can’t slip down too far. God is holding us up, never letting us sink too deep – no matter what we fear.
Faith and Trust is the key.
Psalm 118, 14 – 17 14 – The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.[a]
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
Phillippians 4:13 – I know so because I put a medal in both of them that says, “I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me.
Here is a poem by anonymous (such a good poet)
The Light of God Surrounds us.
The love of God enfolds us.
The power of God Protects us.
The presence of Got watches over us.
Where ever we are, God is.
And all is well.
Stand tall. You are on solid ground, thanks to the mercy and grace of God and Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray: Father, we come to You and know that You will always be right here to protect us from ourselves. The thorn in our side, the sink hole we are wallowing in can not take us because through our faith in Jesus Christ, You have promised to be with us always and to keep us on solid ground. Thank You, sweet Lord, thank You for all You are and all You do. . Your continued mercy and grace is the hope on which we exist. Praise be to You, Lord. Amen