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God's Power in Weakness
A Testimony of Grace

March, 2001

By Jackie Collins Clanton, R. N.

And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8.28).

When we think of God, we must think of the life of Christ, and that life was one of unmatched suffering. When we encounter suffering, we can receive tremendous comfort in Godís promises, as they provide strength to help us through the toughest days of trials. Romans 8.18 says, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us." 2 Corinthians 4.17 gives explanation. "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory, beyond all measure."

Getting through each day, trusting God in the midst of pain and suffering, will give you a deeper revelation of Godís grace and power. The greatest comfort in life does not necessarily come from knowing all the answers or from experiencing no difficulty. Rather it comes from knowing that God is in control of all things, even pain.

It is through our difficulties that we are refined. A deeper revelation of our purpose comes to light. God demonstrates His power in our weakness.

If we seek to follow God at all cost, if we consider ourselves "sold out" to Jesus, we will experience the same sufferings that the Son experienced even unto death. Our suffering could and will never measure up to His; however, in my own experience, I find that we may feel at times our trials are beyond what we can bear.

There are no formulas, principles, or special techniques to quarantine us from suffering and weakness. It may not matter how hard we pray or how deep we consider our faith to be. We continue to be subjected to troubles.

Godís power helps us in our infirmities. His power strengthens us in our weaknesses. The Christian life is about overcoming, and as we come to understand that, we will then have a change in attitude such as Paul.

Second Corinthians 12.7-10 (NIV) reads:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ĎMy grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.í Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christís power may rest on me. That is why for Christís sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paulís thorn is considered to have been physical, painful, humiliating, and also a divinely permitted Satanic attack. The KJV uses "buffet," indicating a recurrent action, a constantly repeated attack. Numbers 33.55 says of thorns, "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, they will give you trouble in the land where you will live." Ezekiel 28.24 says, "No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briars and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord." Hosea 2.6 says, "Therefore I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way."

Obstacles to dwelling in the land promised by God needed to be removed, driven out, overcome. Paulís thorn kept him from exalting himself, thinking too highly of himself. Paulís thorn kept him seeking God for grace, a grace sufficient to his weakness. Thus Paul could come to delight in it, for in his experience he came to know the Sovereign Lord.

I can identify with Paul, because one day I experienced pain beyond the measure of what I thought I could endure. A thorn in my flesh buffeted me day and night. Pain pills didnít help. Muscle relaxants didnít help. I even thought that all the prayer was not helping.

One day I got too weak to fight, and momentarily, I experienced despair. At that peak time of weakness and helplessness, Godís power stepped in. First, He worked on my mind to let me know why I was in this pain. The accuser had come with his words, but I had a revelation from God that I must endure, that His grace is sufficient for me. Godís power gave me hope through new revelations and insights. I experienced a taste of Jesusí death and resurrection. Godís power transformed me and caused me to forget those things that are behind and press toward the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ.

What might be your thorn? Your home may be shipwrecked, your kids won over by other influences. Perhaps you find yourself discredited on the job, that work is given to others less qualified. For others a thorn in the flesh could be a Dx of a terminal illness.

Paul pleaded three times with the Lord to have his thorn taken away, but he came to bow his will to Godís will. The trial would endure, but Godís grace would suffice and not fail. Paulís weakness kept him from presumption, from a security that could become Satanís opportunity. Paul could boast only in Godís strength and power. Paulís attitude changed. He could say in 2 Corinthians 4.7 that "we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us."

The testing of suffering causes us to see our weakness and the sufficiency of Godís grace. Through trials, we are strengthened for service. We receive revelation of who God is. We grow in our character and compassion for others.

Andrew Murray comments, "In times of trouble say, first: He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place. In that I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child. Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn and work in me the grace He means to bestow. Last, in His good time, He can bring me out againóhow and when He knows. Say, I am here (1) by Godís appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time."

Thorns come to humble us, to keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves in the service of God. My experience taught me much in the process of the healing that took place in my body. I found Godís grace sufficient to my weakness. Every believer can discover the sufficiency of Godís grace by seeking the following:

      1. Seek God through prayer and reading His word. Confess sin, iniquity, and transgression. Be open to what God may be teaching you through the experience. Surrender to the sovereignty of God.
      2. Seek deep within your soul and do some soul searching.
      3. Seek prayer support from the Body of Christ, from people you trust.
      4. Seek strength from God to stay humble before Him and to get better, not bitter or angry.
      5. Seek courage to overcome and boldness to declare Christ.
      6. Seek rest in Christ. Be still and know that He is God.
      7. Seek for the grace of God in Christ sufficient to your weakness.

I would like to thank Mary Craig and Mary Craig Ministries for their prayers and concern during my illness. God has placed a wonderful ministry in our midst. I pray that God will help me be of better service to His people.

 
© 2001 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.

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