Today’s reading: Joshua 18:1–19:9, 2 Corinthians 12:1–10, Ps 56:1–13
Today’s theme: Sovereign over our trials
We learn today that God is sovereign over our trials and has provided an abundance of grace to help us in times of need.
So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Joshua 18:3 (ESV)
I have the following note in my bible “The Christian life is always described in continuing effort… Pilgrimage, war, a race – Pastor Dennis Greenidge”. This is so true, as God’s children we need to avoid falling into the trap of procrastination and instead learn from both the attitudes of Judah “to go first” and Joseph “to work and expand”.
2 Corinthians 12:1–10
What is your thorn in the flesh?
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of 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 becoming conceited. 2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV)
In this ultimate conclusion to Paul’s argument in this letter, Paul gives us two accounts which he attributes to God. One is his rapture and vision of heaven, receiving such revelation that some could not be shared. The other is the thorn in the flesh or messenger from Satan that God allows to help him stay humble. In both cases God remains the ultimate orchestrator and sovereign.
There has been much debate throughout church history regarding the identity of the thorn. The most likely option being some form of illness but attempts to identify it miss the point of Paul’s intended ambiguity in using this sort of figurative language. Forcing a single meaning to this sort of language misses the point, which is that it remains open so that the lesson can be applied in all circumstances in every age.
God’s grace is sufficient
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
Paul’s main point here is not the identity of the thorn but its origin (from Satan yet given by God), it’s cause (the great revelations) and its purpose (to keep Paul from conceit). The climax is that no matter what we are allowed to go through and the reasons behind it, God’s grace will give us the strength we need to endure. God is glorified when we persevere through difficulties and challenges in humility before Him.
This verse embodies Paul’s entire argument. The Christian life is not marked by happy days of no suffering, bliss, wealth and health… No, our lives are marked by endurance and humility in the midst of adversity and persecution to bring Glory to God.
The vagueness around the thorn and the definite promise of sufficient grace (said in the present tense) means we can all take comfort from this promise for our own walk with the Lord today.
Confront fear with trust in God
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4 (ESV)
When we are afraid we should not ignore our fear but confront it with our faith in God’s word. We should come to the firm realisation that we can trust in God and His word and that nothing can happen to us as God’s children outside of God’s control. See 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 2 Corinthians 12