A construction crew had been on the job site for about a week when one of their men was hurt and a new guy, named Jason, was hired. He was a broad-shouldered, powerful young man and a really good worker. But he was also very annoying.
Jason was always bragging that he was stronger than anyone else at the work site and he especially made fun of Ralph, one of the older workmen. Finally the old fella had enough.
“Sonny,” said Ralph, “why don’t you put your money where your mouth is. I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that out building that you won’t be able to wheel back.”
Jason smiled and said: “You’re on, old man. Let’s see what you got.”
Then Ralph reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to Jason, he said, “All right, young man get in.”
There are a lot of applications to this story, but it reminds us that there are all kinds of burdens. Some are physical, and others are emotional or mental. And there are some things we can’t handle ourselves. We need someone else.
In one of the great verses of the Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul speaks to that issue.
And (God) said to me, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
The context deals with Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He doesn’t identify it, so, we don’t know what the thorn was. But it was a problem for Paul. It hurt. It was pricking him. It slowed him down. It caused him pain.
The text tells us what Paul did about it. First, he recognized the source the problem–the devil. He didn’t blame God, but understood that the thorn was a “messenger of Satan.” Secondly, he realized that the thorn was a means to keep him humble, to remind him not to be conceited or proud. Thirdly, Paul responded with prayer. Three times, he asked God to remove the thorn.
God answered Paul’s prayer, but He didn’t remove the thorn. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” God’s answer to our requests is not always, “Yes.” Sometimes, it is “no.” Other times it is wait a while.” But God offered help, hope, and strength through His grace.
Instead of turning bitter at God’s answer, Paul allowed the thorn to make him stronger. To demonstrate God’s power. To actually be glad that he could use the devil’s infirmity to make him a better Christian.
The Grace Factor
This verse reminds us of some great lessons about God’s amazing grace.
(1) We are Saved by Grace.
The reason Paul could access God’s grace was because he had been saved by it. To the Ephesians, he affirmed, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
(2) We are Sustained by Grace.
Since we enjoy God’s saving grace, we can be sustained through difficulties, trials, various thorns in the flesh. Grace nourishes us. Nurtures us. Supports us.
(3) We are Strengthened by Grace
Like Paul, we find power to overcome problems. God’s grace gives us the strength to go on. To accept life’s hurts. To grow. To even be empowered to do accomplish great things for God.
Are you dealing with a thorn in the flesh? Hold on. Have faith. Pray. Help is on the way. God’s grace will give you strength.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman