I’ve got a cold; a bad cold. It started four or five days ago, and I’ve been pretty miserable the last couple days. But when I did a search for a free image to describe how I’m feeling, I discovered that I’m pretty well off in comparison to some other people.
So my train of thought has shifted a little. Now I’m thinking of how blessed I am rather than how miserable I feel. A lot of times the big difference between being joyous or miserable is as simple as our attitude towards life.
Paul had a thorn in the flesh that troubled him, and he thought that he would really be better off without it. So he got on his knees and asked God to take it away. God said no, or said nothing, like God sometimes does. So he asked again. And God and said no, or said nothing, again (like God sometimes does).
Now Paul had a good relationship with God, so he wasn’t afraid to ask God the THIRD time. This time God said no, but also gave Paul an explanation.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
The answer was clear, and Paul accepted it. He didn’t act like the spoiled child who keeps on whining until his mother throws up her hands and gives in, so that she can have some peace and quiet. Paul’s response was quite instructive…
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (See 2 Cor. 12:7 – 10, NKJV)
That is what I mean about the attitude making a difference. I’m sure Paul had a list of good reasons for asking God to heal him (we don’t know what the problem was). But when God said, I can get more glory by not healing you, than by healing you, Paul went along with it.
I can about hear Paul saying, “If God gets more glory from my weakness than from my strength, then I’m willing to be weak.”
We can learn a lot from that. So often our strength, and our abilities, and our Bible knowledge, and even our zeal for serving God can get in God’s way. But when we realize how little we are in ourselves, and how great God is in comparison, then God can use us.