Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - What We Learn from Our Pain

As I was growing up, I saw my father grow older and older. In time, it would take him longer and longer to stand up after being seated for a while. He would have to stretch and flex a bit before standing up. His joints would get stiff and sometimes he had to use muscle creams to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. In time, arthritis and bursitis made it difficult to move and each move would cause a twinge of pain. Even with all of this going on, he still would continue to do his chores and take care of his family. But, all of the hard work that he did took its toll on him.

In the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the main character, Indiana Jones, talks with his ex-girlfriend, Marion. She looks at him and says that he’s not the man she knew ten years ago.

He responds, “It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.”

My father put on a lot of miles and had to deal with a lot of pain especially on cold mornings. As I have grown older, I have begun to experience the same aches and pains. My joints stiffen up and I have a slight case of bursitis in my knees and shoulders. The mileage piles up very quickly on all of us and we all feel our bodies experience aches and pains that we didn’t think would come in our life. We all go through this including the Apostle Paul. If you are talking about mileage, the Apostle Paul put in his fair share and then some.

The Bible, specifically the New Testament, contains several references to an affliction that the Apostle Paul experienced. This affliction, often referred to as "a thorn in the flesh," caused Paul much distress and he repeatedly sought relief from it through prayer. Despite his efforts, the affliction remained and ultimately led Paul to a greater understanding of the power of God's grace.

Paul writes: "If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NLT)

In this passage, Paul reveals that his affliction was a "thorn in my flesh" sent by Satan to torment him. He also reveals that he prayed to God to remove it but was told that God's grace is sufficient for him and that God's power is made perfect in his weakness. This realization led Paul to boast in his weaknesses and find strength in Christ.

Paul also writes about his affliction, saying "Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News. But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself." (Galatians 4:13-14 NLT) Here, Paul indicates that his affliction was a physical infirmity, and he also mentions that the Galatians received him with open arms despite his affliction.

Paul's affliction serves as a reminder to us that despite our struggles and weaknesses, God's grace is sufficient for us. Paul eloquently and simply writes, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT) In other words, when we are weak, God's power shines through us the most.

Paul's affliction, often referred to as "a thorn in my flesh," was a physical infirmity that caused him much distress. Despite his repeated prayers for relief, the affliction remained, but through it, Paul came to understand the sufficiency of God's grace and found strength in his weakness. This is an important reminder for us to trust in God's strength even in our own weaknesses and afflictions.

So, when you stand up or get out of bed and feel that twinge or ache, just know that you are sharing in the afflictions of all the saints. As you continue to endure even more difficult maladies, you have the opportunity to be an inspiration to others and that makes your story a true testament to bring honor and glory to God. His grace will always be sufficient and will help you stand firm in His grace.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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