"Thorns and Grace"
In the life of the Apostle Paul, the reception of sufficient grace led to the superlative granting of power for ministry to others.
"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 12:8-9).
"By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (I Corinthians 15:10).
The thorn that comprised Paul's challenge served as the holy means whereby His communication of the Gospel came forth - and still goes forth - in the power of God. Without the painful prick, much of the grace received by the Apostle during His earthly lifetime would have remained in Heaven. Pain led to prayer for deliverance, which led to provision not of the thorn's removal, but of a greater comfort. God enabled Paul to endure, and even more, He formed Christ in Paul for others. "So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (II Corinthians 4:12). This is joy in it's purest form, namely, the empowering to honor the Lord Jesus and effectually communicate Him to others. Such grace so infused our brother of old that the words of his New Testament epistles were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. They proceed through the ages as saving grace for others that would not exist had Paul not required sufficient grace for himself.
Such thorns and grace ministry began in our Lord Jesus, who Himself wore a crown of thorns so that He might adorn us us with freely given grace of redemption and righteousness. "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, no thorns, no grace for others. The means proceeded to Paul - no thorn, no grace for others. And now, it finds its way to you and me - no thorn, no grace for others. With the thorn, however, we cry out to God for His help. He grants it, sometimes in extrication of the thorn, but often in the empowering to endure that leads to our exemplifying to others of Christ's sufficient grace. Our Savior paved this glorious path of grace long ago. Our brother Paul walked upon its blessed way for our sakes. We now tread the path for those in our lives to whom God honors us to minister. Indeed, thorns and grace serve as companions in the love of Christ whereby our Lord honors us to "walk even as He walked" for the glory of God and the blessing of others (I John 2:6).
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."
(II Corinthians 1:3-6)
Weekly Memory Verse
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.