The Apostle Paul discovered God's willingness and ability in a manner greatly challenging in the moment, but far more greatly blessed in the sense of the ultimate and the eternal.
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:7-9).
Sometimes we pray for for the departure of some trouble, as in the case of the leper's disease mentioned in yesterday's message: "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean" (Matthew 8:2). And, as we considered, the Lord would, could, and did. The leprosy left in answer to the man's prayer, and God revealed His willingness and ability through the Lord Jesus. Sometimes, however, we pray for deliverance, as did Paul on three occasions, and God's willingness manifests itself not in the departure of grievance, but in the distribution of grace.
If we could speak with the Apostle, would he tell us that God answered his thrice-offered prayer? "Abundantly!" he would answer. Or perhaps, "Triply!" Indeed, Paul would testify emphatically that the thorn allowed to remain revealed his Lord's willingness and ability in a manner far greater than its removal could ever have offered. Both for himself and for those to whom our brother of old ministered the Gospel (including ourselves in the reading of his words), Paul's experience of God in the thorn illuminated pathways into the Divine heart that could never have been traveled had the Apostle's prayers been answered precisely as prayed.
"I will, be thou clean!" declared the Lord Jesus to the leper. We all have testimonies of such deliverance, and we rejoice. "I will, be thou blessed with My grace" declared the Lord implicitly to Paul. Perhaps just now, a lingering thorn pricks and draws blood yet again in our bodies, or even more, in our hearts. If so, let us rejoice all the more. When our Heavenly Father allows pain to remain, He purposes that it might cause us to draw near unto Himself for the comfort of grace known only in His realized presence. Either in deliverance from thorns, or deliverance unto grace, the Lord Jesus is willing, He is able, and most importantly, He is present to be whatever we need Him to be, and do whatever we need Him to do. Let us therefore trust the ability of His hand, and even more, the willingness of His heart.
"Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling."
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore."