I have been struggling with a printer that just won’t cooperate. It has been, and is continuing to be so frustrating. And no, I’m not going to tell you how I just laid hands on it and it started printing. I think the one thing that has wasted my time the most has been printers that won’t work properly. I’m sure it isn’t even almost as bad as the thorn that Paul had in his flesh, but I think you’ll agree that struggling with something that just won’t change, improve or go away is not exactly a pleasant experience. How are we supposed to handle things like these?
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (TPT) The extraordinary level of the revelations I’ve received is no reason for anyone to exalt me. For this is why a thorn in my flesh was given to me, the Adversary’s messenger sent to harass me, keeping me from becoming arrogant. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.
Nobody knows what the thing was that troubled Paul, and it really doesn’t matter one way or the other. After he asked God three times to remove it, and it wasn’t removed, he decided to make peace with it. Making peace with it didn’t mean that he embraced it as his own. He called it a messenger that Satan sent to harass him. That’s how bad it was but he decided that if it would stay with him he would have to use it for his good and not allow it to pull him down or to be in rebellion about it all the time. Paul said that God told him that His grace was enough for him and that when Paul was weak, God could manifest His power through him all the better. Paul also said that it would keep him humble.
Say, for instance, that you have arthritis, but you don’t let the pain overwhelm you and you continue playing a sport weekly. When someone asks you about it you tell them that it is by the grace of God that you are able to do it. You don’t complain and when you feel like giving up you remember what Paul said and you go on with a smile. You are going to become an example of God being strong because you are weak. There are lots of things we can’t do in our own strength. Like if you work for a temperamental boss, and you ask God to help you stay calm and keep delivering high quality work. Your colleagues are going to notice that there is a quality in you that most people don’t have. That will be an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
Genesis 50:20, But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
This is what Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery. God can use any situation to bring about His plan. Sometimes it feels like you are being buffeted from every side, but if you just hand the situation over to God and allow His strength to fill your weakness, then He is going to be able to make His plan work.
Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Here we can see that God can take any situation and turn around its original, or perceived purpose and use it to our advantage.
Luke 22:31-32, And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Jesus tells Simon Peter that the devil wants to test him and that He will pray for him to stay strong. What is very interesting is that He said that when it was over that Simon should pray for his brethren. That means that Satan is going to test all believers and we should pray for each other to be able to withstand it.
Let us say with David:
Psalm 31:19-20, Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.