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God’s Grace: Sustaining Grace, part 3
In a sense, the believer’s suffering is unique, but in another sense, much of the suffering we endure as believers has to do with the imperfection of this world and our fellow man (this truth is the same for the unbeliever). Believers experience sickness like everyone else; cruelty like everyone else; injustice like everyone else; death like everyone else; and suffering, just like everyone else. Except, unlike everyone else, we have a relationship with Almighty God who by His, Sustaining Grace,helps and sustains us in our times of suffering.
Remember with me here, what the Apostle Paul says about our pain, and God’s Sustaining Grace: By God’s Grace, There is Purpose in Our Pain. 2 Corinthians 12":7-8 “So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.”
Paul teaches us important truths about how to pray when we suffer. First, it is perfectly fine to ask God to remove the cause of our pain. Many have debated through the years about what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. He describes it as a “… messenger of Satan…” sent to torment him. A popular view was that it was an eye affliction based on Galatians 4:15 (Paul spoke of writing large letters). Honestly, we do not know what it was because (I am confident) God didn’t want us to know; because everyone’s “thorn” is different. But this we do know: whatever it was (because Paul was speaking metaphorically here) we can safely say that he saw his affliction as being straight from hell. So we can certainly understand why he would have asked God to remove it.
But I also want us to notice that the request to have the affliction removed was a secondary request. Paul’s first request, apparently, was to ask God what He wanted to teach him through this suffering and the answer to that is found in verse 7.
Medication: A Merry Heart
"Give me a sentence about a public servant," said a teacher.
The small boy wrote: “The fireman came down the ladder pregnant.”
The teacher took the lad aside to correct him: “Don’t you know what pregnant means?” she asked.
“Sure,” said the young boy confidently. “It means carrying a child.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
Verse of the Week: 1 Peter 3:9
Today’s readings: Amos 1 – 5