Monday, April 23, 2012

Do You See Only Scratches or Thorns?

     Several weeks ago, I was polishing my silver.  Most of us know that after time, tarnish builds up on silver so it must be taken care of on a regular basis.  We had been given a good deal of silver as wedding gifts some forty years ago, and it does take some elbow grease to keep it shined up.
     During the course of our marriage, I became upset because I had found a scratch on a silver piece I dearly loved.  I complained to my mother-in-law about it and how upset I was that it had a scratch on the surface.  She told me that I should really look at it differently.  She said it was a sign that I was using that piece and therefore, gave it character.  I had never thought about it that way before.  I only saw the scratch and got upset.  She saw the scratch and knew it had been used by someone she loved.
     When I inherited my grandmother's beautiful silver place settings, I looked at them through new eyes.  I was delighted to see the less than perfect forks, knives and spoons because I knew my grandmother had lovingly used them to serve her family on holidays and special occasions.
     In thinking about this from a biblical perspective, we need to read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.  Read the first six verses and then, we will key in on verses 7-10.  "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'  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."
     Paul was given unimaginable revelations by the Spirit of God.  He had seen things which no one had seen.  He could have taken great pride in this and been puffed up.  So, whatever his thorn in the flesh was he looked at it through God's eyes.  There was a purpose for it...."lest he should be exalted".  That's how Paul saw it.
     He asked three times for it to be removed, but the Lord replied to him that His grace was sufficient and His strength made perfect in Paul's weakness.  So the Apostle looked at this whole thing from God's perspective and didn't complain.  Instead, he chose to see the fact that God would be glorified ultimately as he, Paul, depended on Him.
Florida sand spur...these thorns hurt!
     Now many of us could say that it must have been easy for Paul to put up with his "thorn in the flesh" because he was an apostle and had seen such great things from God.  However, we do not know that it was "easy" for Paul to cope.  We are so quick to assume things like that.  I am certain Paul struggled every bit as much as we do with physical problems.  We may have asked the Lord many times to take this or that away.  We may have trusted Him and sought after healing many times....yet like never left.
     That's when we need to see it in a different light just as I saw my silver piece in a different light.  We need to say, "Lord what do I need to learn from this?"  Then, we need to know that God's grace is sufficient for us.  In our infirmities, our persecutions, our reproaches, our needs and distresses, we can see the power of Christ.  His strength is more than sufficient to see us through.  When we can't do it alone, we can trust in Him.  We can turn to Him and He will hear us.  We can depend on Him and He wants us to do that very thing not depending on our own strength.
     Therefore, the next time we are tempted to feel sorry for ourselves or get upset over a situation, let us think about that scratch in the silver.  We can either look at the scratch or we can think about the loved one who used it...our outlook defines our availability to be used by the Lord for His glory and purpose.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights here.  Please feel free to leave comments.

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