Daily Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 10
I love this passage, because I love the story of Paul. I tend to think of Paul as the New Testament Job. With all he went through, shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, he still sang praises and preached the gospel. And this was a man who started out his early adult life persecuting Christians. Just amazing.
In this passage, Paul mentions the “thorn in the flesh.” He never goes into detail about this thorn, but we know it’s a significant issue, because he says, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” (verse 8) Whatever this ailment was, he wanted it gone.
Do you ever feel like that about your weight? I sure do. “Lord, why can’t I pass up Starbucks and their Double Chocolatey Chip Frappuccino?” “Lord, why can’t I lose these last 15 stubborn pounds?” “Lord, why…. why…. why?” Yeah, sometimes, it totally feels like my weight is a thorn in my flesh. (And please know, I’m not belittling Paul or his ailment. I could only hope to be as close to God as Paul was.)
Maybe there’s one part of you that you just can’t get past. For me, it’s my arms. I cannot express how much I hate my arms. They are my thorn in my flesh. For 5 months now, I have been working so hard on losing weight and toning my body. The weight is falling off, but my arms still look awful. When my husband and I first got married, I had teeny tiny arms. Ok, so ALL of me was teeny tiny, but I was also a recovering bulimic. 13 years, 7 babies, and a whole lot of pounds later, my arms aren’t what they used to be. Now, I raise my arms to salute, and they wave back to me. It just kills me. 🙁
In the book, “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst, she mentions that she feels the same way about her “tankles.” But, God showed her she had a reason for those tankles: they gave her strength. She never sprained an ankle. Never had trouble walking or running. Those tankles gave her a stable foundation, and they were the perfect ankles to end up married to a man who loved to run.
So, I started praying about the good my arms could do. What was the reason God had given me these great big arms? The more I prayed, it seemed like the farther away God got. I just couldn’t come up with any kind of a good reason for my big, flabby arms.
And then I posted a picture, griping about my arms, and in response, my dear, sweet friend Heather told me, “Those stick thin arms didn’t hold babies. They didn’t hug husbands. They didn’t fold together to pray for the wisdom and strength to raise Godly children. Those stick thin arms weren’t mama arms. Your arms are way more beautiful now because of the power they hold – the power of a mama to comfort her babies, to calm a screaming toddler, to let a husband know you are there for him, to put around a friend who is going through a rough time, to hold a teenager experiencing her first heartbreak. Your arms are perfect, Angie <3″
When I read that, I cried like a baby. In fact, I still cry when I read it. That was the answer I wanted from God, but he used a sweet friend to give it to me. There really WAS a reason for my great big arms. And not just one reason, but several reasons!
Now, I want you to look at verse 9: “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'” I love that verse. Remember day one? Remember Whose strength we are leaning on? It’s not our strength. We can only succeed in anything through the power of Christ. But, the best part of this verse? The part that speaks to me most? “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” That’s talking right to me! I AM weak. I want and desire things that I know I do not need. In my weakness, HE can give me strength. HE can help me overcome the temptation and resist the snacks I want so badly. HIS strength is made perfect in MY weakness. I can’t do it alone. I have to do it with him. I have to lean on Him, trust in Him, and pull from His strength to make it through day by day.
Now, read on to the second half of verse 9 and verse 10, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
If Paul can be thankful in everything he has gone through, and if he can still see the power of God at work in his life, why shouldn’t I? I may not be shipwrecked, beaten, or thrown in jail, but even in my daily trials, my weight struggles, and my flabby arms, I can find joy in knowing that because of His strength, I can go on.
Want to know the best part? You can draw from His strength too. He cares about you and wants to make you strong in Him. Choose to pull from His strength when all you see is your weakness. He won’t fail you.
1. What is the thorn in your flesh? What makes you feel weak?
2. Can you find something positive about that “thorn”? What do you think is the reason God allows you to have that issue? Can you use it for His glory?
Workout at least 30 minutes and drink at least 8 glasses of water.
To print out today’s copy of the God Before Goodies Challenge, click here.