By CRAIG HARRIS
2 Corinthians 12: 7 - 9 (NIV): To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
Something was causing Paul great pain. We don't know what it was, although some early church fathers said it was headaches perhaps caused by malaria. This is interesting because it means that Paul had physical troubles, just like we do, and yet God chose not to heal him. Paul said God would not heal him because he wanted him to depend on God and not become full of pride because of the revelations he had been given.
But didn't Paul have enough faith to be healed? Of course he did. Paul even healed others. Doesn't God want his children happy? Of course, but mostly he wants us mature and like Christ, and that comes through trials, suffering and perseverance. God's answer to Paul was that his grace was sufficient to sustain him through life. Sometimes God heals us and sometimes he gives us the grace to endure. But everything is for a reason and God is always up to something good.
But if we are righteous enough, won't God always say yes to our prayers? No, consider Jesus in the garden. God said no to him and believe me, Jesus was righteous enough. God told David no when David wanted to build God's temple. God had another plan in mind. Jesus told James and John's mother no when she asked if they could sit beside him in his kingdom. Jesus said she was off base in her request.
James says God tells us no when our motives are wrong.
We must remember that God is God. We ask and we ask believing, but we leave the results to God and depend on him no matter his answer.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.