A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 a.m. for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and lose), he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5:00 a.m.” He left it where he knew she would find it.
The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 a.m. and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn’t wakened him, when he noticed a piece of paper by his side of the bed. The paper said, “It is 5:00 a.m. Wake up.”
Isn’t it amazing how we can get into the same arguments with the same person over and over again? It’s so frustrating. The relationship could be great, except for that topic or that behavior or that attitude. Just one thing can cause a lot of days or nights to go sour.
The truth is we can be really good in many areas, our health, family, job, financially, spiritually, but still have one thing, one problem in our lives—one nagging health issue, one bad issue, one bad temptation. On the outside we may seem fine but inside of us there’s something nagging at us.
Apostle Paul wrote over half the New Testament but as effective as he was he had what he called a thorn in his flesh. He asked God three times to remove it. He implored God to take it away. God didn’t remove it. Instead, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient. My power shows up best in your weakness.”
If Paul had focused on the thorn and the why’s and how’s of having such a nagging problem, he wouldn’t have done all he did—and we wouldn’t have had much of the New Testament. We may not have had the same Christian faith. But he went with what God told him. He kept to the outlook that God’s grace is sufficient.
Is there something you’ve wanted to change? Until God removes it don’t let it steal your joy or sour your life. The Lord knows what happening, and you have the grace you need for every situation.
In the Old Testament God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let his people go. But before he would do anything as crazy as going to Pharaoh Moses wanted a sign. His staff turned into a snake and then his hand turned leprous white. These signs were to give Moses confidence. Bu then Moses had to tell
God the truth about himself—as if God didn’t already know. Moses said but I stutter.
That was Moses’ frustration, his thorn in the flesh, the thing that made him feel inadequate for the job. It’s what had always made him feel he couldn’t quite get to where he wanted to go. Even after these great miraculous signs that God had given to Moses to tell him God was on his side, Moses still couldn’t believe it—at least not right then.
And the fact is God never did take away Moses’ stutter; they just cut a deal that Aaron would do the talking if necessary. God worked things out even with Moses having that thorn. God’s grace was sufficient.
Are you waiting for God to remove something before you can be happy, before you can get on with it? Is there one flaw, one thorn that’s frustrating you still? You don’t have to put your life on hold. We are clay vessels not perfectly formed. Everyone’s got a crack or two.
Whatever your thorn is – God’s grace is sufficient, sufficient for you to work around it, work through it, to get on with it. Of course we have to be really ready to live in spite of. Jesus told the lame man in John 5 to get up, take up his bed and walk. But that was not before he asked him if he really wanted to be made well—thirty-eight years of lying there by the pool of Bethsaida—trying to get into the pool first after the wings of angels had stirred up the water and made it ready to heal the first person to touch the waters.
The man said he really wanted to get better. Jesus told him to get up, take his bed, and walk.
The truth is we can get healthy and healed and our thorn may shrink to the size of a sliver, but we will still have it with us to some degree. We still carry our mat of lameness.
Nobody goes through life without carrying something, something we laid down on, something that knocked us down, that took the legs out from underneath us, something that laid us out for awhile. And that stuff sticks with us. We get changed by it, and we carry it with us.
But Jesus told the man it’s time to get up. It’s time to move on. Jesus is telling us that we’ve got our mat but it’s time to walk in the path, time to get up, even though that thorn is still coming with you, and get going. It’s time to move on.
Don’t give up on what frustrates you. It’s not something for you to avoid as if you’re beaten. Instead, see it as the special place where you and
the Lord can meet and work out something that changes your life. That’s where Jesus met a whole lot of people, right at that frustration point, that clay jar fracture. That’s where you can get the Lord to talk to you and work something special in your life.
It’s at the point of your greatest frustration that you’ve got the greatest chance for your greatest victory and joy and blessing and transformation! Being able to bear frustration is one level of dealing with it. A higher level is the resolve to love frustration and work with it!
If you think about it, you’ll see that deep down you really do love frustration. Imagine going out to buy a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. You bring it home, open the box and discover that all the pieces are in numbered order! It’s infuriating! Why? Because you paid good money for a box of frustration and they’ve taken away the challenge!
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Or I should say, you are like a jigsaw puzzle.
So many things only get accomplished through struggle. We accept certain pains as a worthwhile price to pay for something better to come from them. In truth, the greater the challenge, the taller we can rise to meet it.
We need to put our lives in God’s hands and take it out of our hands. We simply can’t keep hold of every part of our life and not let the Lord do something with it until we’re all put together just right. Instead trust God to move you forward even if not everything has been figured out.
Paul believed there was a reason why he had to keep being frustrated. He thought it was to keep him humble. Might have been, but only God knew for sure.
Paul took what he could do, added God’s grace and his faith to it, and it overwhelmed all that Paul knew was negative about himself and his life. He kept doing even though at times he felt done in. He kept giving even when he wasn’t receiving.
What Paul did amazingly well was to act as if. It was as if the thorn had been removed; it was as if he had everything perfect in his life. And it was grace that made his as if come true.
Our faith is tried in the fire of affliction. You can’t get stronger if you’re not put under any pressure. God won’t give a 100 pound blessing to someone who can only lift 50 pounds.
Your thorn isn’t the problem. It’s being defeated by it that is the problem. Praise the Lord in spite of the pain. Give thanks to God in spite of
the thorn. Trust that good things are coming when you stand up and start moving on.
Can the church say Amen?