Prayer Focus: Uganda

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 10-13

Scripture:

7b  Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given 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.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Observation:

Paul suffered from an affliction that he never names.  Many have speculated that it had something to do with his eyes.  There are even many bread crumbs dropped in scripture that support this theory.  Acts 9:30 describes his Damascus Road conversion that includes a bright light.  It was bright enough that he was many days recovering.  Gal. 4:13-14 talks about a “bodily condition”.  Gal. 4:15 Paul says, “I know you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.”  Implying that he would have need of new eyes.  Gal. 6:11 says “See what large letters I use as I write you with my own hand.”  (As an aside it was common then to dictate to a scribe, where the author would sign the closing greetings.)

In today’s reading Paul confesses that he’s prayed for this affliction (whatever it was) to pass three times before he heard from God.  And when he did, it wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Application:

There is a trap that I believe many of us fall into; a lie we want to believe that says “If I love  and obey God well enough, He won’t let bad things happen to me.”  When you say it out loud like that it’s easy to see the fallacy in it.  After all, He didn’t spare Job, Joseph or even his own son from terrible things.

It’s wrong of course but still, we persist in thinking this way because it’s the way we strive to treat our own kids.  It’s the treatment we want for ourselves.  We trap ourselves into attaching our feelings of being loved to the level of our comfort.

When each of these  men looked back on their particular afflictions, and tried to make sense of what had happened in their life, Job said “should we accept good from God and not trouble?”  Joseph said “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”   Jesus said “If it be possible, let this cup pass.  Never the less, not my will but thine be done.”

God told Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  It seems that it was the perfect thing to answer Paul’s inner struggles on the matter because he got it.  It made sense to him and he turned his frustration over.  The affliction became the thing he boasted in for it gave him the assurance that he would still be useful to the Lord, that “his power may rest on me.”

I don’t know where you are in your journey.   Are you going through trials?  Have you asked for God to take it way?  Do you doubt that he hears you?  Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that the terrible thing you are facing is because he doesn’t love you?   Are you broken, sick, lonely, tired or afraid?  I confess that I have thought all of those things.

I entreat you to keep talking to Him about it though.  He will have answers for you, if you don’t walk away.

Prayer:

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve caught myself measuring your love for me by the events in my life.  I am so grateful for your Spirit that reassures me of your love, independent of the events that shadow me.

I pray also for those who are in crisis, that you would speak to them in their weakness and show them the sufficiency of your power over their circumstances.  I pray that their faith would deepen during this trial and they would come to know you better and trust you even more.  Amen

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