Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Victory Over Pride

"Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, 
for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, 

there was given me a thorn in the flesh, 
a messenger of Satan to torment me—

to keep me from exalting myself!" 
2 Corinthians 12:7

The thorns we must bear are an exercise in gaining victory over our pride. Paul states these words twice in the same verse ... to help us remain focused on his key point.

             "to keep me from exalting myself!" 

It is my honor to be asked to lead the Grace and Truth Sunday morning class at our church. Since there are three elders and others with great wisdom in the group, the class is a large challenge for me personally. And it helps keep my outspoken and at times over the top tendencies in check.

My poor hearing has been a frustration for me, especially with some women who have higher pitched or quiet voices. I simply could not hear anything they had to say. Because of this ongoing problem, I was beginning to think that maybe someone else needed to lead.

And then I received an enormous blessing. My friends Kathy and Glen offered me Kathy’s deceased father’s hearing aids. At first it was a bit of a challenge but after a couple of adjustments I can now say my hearing is the best it has ever been. These friends surely have helped turn a huge burden into a blessing. Thank you my friends!

This brings me to the subject of A Thorn in the Flesh. 

I am very excited with my new ability to hear normally but it appears that our common enemy has other plans. One week after receiving the gift; I awakened in the morning with a new problem in my right ear. It has nothing to do with the hearing aids. It began in my sleep and is present twenty-four hours a day regardless.

There is now a never ending breathing in my ear. It almost sounds like waves breaking on the shore at night but more rapidly. I checked with the audiologist who believes it is nerve damage in my brain, and that this condition is untreatable. This ongoing annoyance is bearable but barely. I will continue to seek a medical solution ... but it seems that some of us have more ongoing problems with our brain than others.

Like a Chinese water torture or the beating of your heart, this noise is a constant. It is literally like the enemy is breathing in my ear ... in a way similar to a heavy breather on a crank phone call. As I have done with my other numerous health problems; and since I know Christ is in control of all things, I have simply turned this never-ending irritant over to Him, and begun to search His word for answers and peace.

The verse above is the first that the Holy Spirit brought to mind. This thorn, unlike a real thorn is not something easily removed and the thought of living with it forever is discouraging. The victory over this as always is in focusing on Christ. For we know that: "Jesus causes all things to work together for good, to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

And God’s eternal Truth has the answers to all things. 

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

I must be thankful that this breathing is not a continual throbbing pain as some must endure daily. I now can better understand those with migraine headaches and others that are never released from their afflictions and pain.

I am certain that just like this problem came overnight, God could heal me of it instantly as well. But I have now come to understand and view this noise as a constant reminder of the Holy Spirit’s never-ending presence, guidance, and comfort for me.

Coincidentally Neil led me to a similar passage on Easter Sunday. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

What I am learning is that A Thorn in the Flesh can actually be a very positive blessing when we see things as Christ sees them. What could be better than continually having my mind refocused upon Christ? This single thorn is minimal when compared to the Crown of Thorns that Jesus bore on the cross for our sins. 

The blessings of Jesus are never-ending.

The Apostle Paul clearly explained this Truth when He said:

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; 
for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 2:8-10

Are there any thorns in your life that could be a blessing for you as well?

God bless you my friends, Bob

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