By Chika Ojiaku
The Holy Bible tells the story of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers and later jailed by his master for advances made by his master’s wife (Genesis 37). There is Abraham in spite of his many years of childlessness did not refuse to obey God’s command to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Genesis 22). Both situations would present challenges to any Christian’s faith.
Even among Christians, sometimes there is this misconception that because we have prayed or are praying to God about something and in some cases for a significant period of time, that God will resolve the issue in the exact manner we have asked for in our prayers. As frustration and sometimes depression begins to take over, it dawns on us that the thorn in our flesh is here to stay.
“Thorn in my flesh”.
This could be something that makes me anxious, weighs me down or challenges me. This could be a temptation, a hardship, opposition, rejection or some need. There are times, at the end of my tether, the easiest way to react is to worry. However, the Bible reminds believers of Christ that whatever it is, even one that to the human mind eludes resolution, we serve a God that makes the impossible, possible (Luke 18: 27).
God already knows us inside out; our strengths and limitations. Even with these issues, He has given us a solution in 2 Corinthians 12 v. 9-10 which reads:
“My grace IS sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness…”
However, we have to do our own part. First of all, admit that there is a thorn, but even more important is humbling ourselves before our Father in Heaven by turning the issue(s) to God.
How do we turn it over?
Tell Him directly – Take it to Him in Prayer. Be it simple, complex or in between, it does not matter the type of thorn. It could be fear, health challenge, control issues, anxiety, character flaws and the list goes on. For instance, if it could be a fear of public speaking. Rather than being overwhelmed by the nerve wracking frenzy of churning fluttery butterflies in one’s stomach, how about making a request to God which may be as simple as:
“Father in Heaven you know how I get butterflies in my stomach when I have to speak before a group, please give me what it is I need to get through it without tripping over myself or even worse completely passing out”.
or for the frustrated parent dealing with a child that present’s challenges
“Oh God in heaven you have said in your word that Your grace is sufficient for me and I tend to be impatient with this child. Please show me and make me receptive to how you want me to handle the situation.”
The type of issue does and should not make a difference because no issue is beyond our Father in Heaven’s reach. Hebrews 2 v. 18 says “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”. This tells me that nothing is too big or too small for our Lord to handle on my behalf.
Even more comforting is the fact that beyond what it is, if and when this thorn is removed, we have the assurance that when the next thorn presents itself, God desires that we bring it to Him, trusting Him to help us through, irrespective of our weaknesses or challenges in life because He desires that we succeed.
“My grace IS sufficient for you” tells me that this gift of grace is continuous (2 Corinthians 12 v. 9). This speaks to God’s unchanging character and how we should always look at our circumstances from the framework of God’s character.
It is an awesome feeling to know that I do not have and should not have to carry the burden alone; and that my Father in Heaven values me enough to let me know that “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31 v. 6; see also v. 8 – Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”). This is reassurance that the Lord my God will make a way even with all the thorns, including going before me to make that way regardless of the type or and duration of the thorn, be it for a day, month or season or lifetime.
For a sinner like me(Romans 3: 23) such undeserved help, grace, free and unmerited favor is every reason to give God all the glory, for I know beyond a doubt that without God’s support, I would not be able to get through the situation. My complete submission to His direction gives me the confidence that I will receive the help I need.
God can use what the devil means for evil for the benefit of His children (Habakkuk 3 v.14). I am reminded in Luke 22 v. 42 that even Jesus Christ while praying at the garden in Gethsemane asked “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine“.
Jesus in human flesh acknowledged that even with the weight of what lay ahead, only his Father in Heaven would give him what he needed to get through. It is not to be overlooked the immense strength and encouragement that comes from observing how Bible believing Christians handle challenges (Hebrews 12 v. 1 – NIV – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”).
Gleaning from Joseph and Abraham’s experiences, my prayer is that our dependency on God will be a testimony to others that wins them over to join in advancing His Kingdom.
Being in God’s will even in our times of weakness, we have the confidence that His grace is sufficient for you and I, and He will be with us come morning and night, rain or shine (Psalm 121 v. 5-8), all the days of our lives, in spite of our thorns, because He desires for us His children to be victorious as we go through life and look forward to eternity with a loving Father in Heaven.
Chika Ojiaku is an attorney by training that loves writing, reading, traveling and a great adventure. You can read more articles from her at: www.thescarletredishrack.wordpress.com.