8 08 2009

I have a thorn in the flesh; a serious health issue that was probably inherited at birth. It first surfaced when I was 23. It has the potential of ending my life, ending my ministry, or making ministry much more difficult. Its presence looms as an ominous reminder of my own weakness. It keeps me monitoring potential symptoms, along with routine or necessary trips to the doctor’s office.

I confess, I have no desire to pray for healing. I only pray for grace to make it through the tough days. Oh, I did pray -ferverently. I have had people to lay hands upon me and pray for God to heal me. Our desired answer never came, my infirmity remains. Some would accuse me of a lack of faith or perhaps relinquishing a positive attitude for a passive fatalism. I claim a lack of desire based upon II Corinthians 12:7-10. In fact, I have found my faith has increased, as I must consign myself to an uncertain future that could begin any day now. I live with the promises given to those with thorns in the flesh, who never find deliverance from the anguish of its presence. If you are there, I relate. Let me share 3 of those promises in a hope to speak encouragement into your pain. You are not merely a survivor; you are a special object of God’s affection. Your potential for earthly influence is exceeded only by His strength to make it happen. He promises.

1. God will give strength to bear the burden. (II Corinthians 12:9)
Instead of answering Paul’s request to remove the thorn, God gave strength to bear it. He will always make a way for you not to be overwhelmed by your thorn. By His grace, you will always be able to bear it! He is not tightening a noose around your neck; He is throwing you a life preserver and desires to pull you to His side. When prayer for deliverance from your thorn is never answered, keep delighting in His presence . You may be introduced to a strength that you never knew you had. You may find that the glory of His presence in your weakness is of far greater value than an answer to your prayer for deliverance.

2. God will give peace to live with the burden. (Philippians 4:6 & 7)
Its ok to bring everything to God in prayer, but even if your request is not granted. He will still give you peace. In fact, the peace of God which “passeth understanding” does not depend upon answered prayer. Obviously, Paul had peace about his requests for removal of his thorn, not being granted.

3. God will give assurance about the burden. (I John 5:14-16)
This is a summery passage.
a. We ask according to His will v. 14
It’s a surrender, “nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”
b. He gives us our desires v. 15
If we ask according to His will, He controls the desires.
c. There are times when we should stop praying. V.16

The Holy Spirit will give assurance that we need to keep praying. He will give assurance that it is time to stop praying. At times like these, we commit that person, in burden, or circumstance, or thorn – to the will of God.

I am not trying to discourage prayer, but am trying to get us to understand prayer. When we do, we will see that sometimes-unanswered prayer has more benefits than answered prayer!




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