August 11, 2008

Spiritual Jujitsu

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9


We don't know what the apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh was, but it gave him serious, chronic problems. Paul says that he asked God three times to heal him. In biblical language, the number three may well mean that Paul prayed and prayed till he felt he could pray no more. At some point, Paul understood that this trial would be his for the rest of his life. Chronic pain, chronic health problems, disabilities of various kinds?all these make daily life challenging. As pain and anger grow heavy within, they can drag us into a pit of despair and bitterness. We cry out to God for relief, for healing, for wellness. And when God says, “No,” we feel abandoned. But with God's assurance, Paul came to a new understanding. After pouring out his heart for a time, Paul learned that God was going to allow him to go on living with his “thorn” indefinitely. What would happen next? God led Paul to a deeper spirituality, a greater insight into life's meaning, than he would have had without the thorn. Paul learned that grace is greater than healing, greater than relief, greater than getting what he wanted. In an act of spiritual jujitsu (skilled fighting that employs weakness), God took Paul's weakness and used it to make him strong in the battle against sin and evil. God works that way today. His grace is still sufficient.

Jesus, sometimes I feel as if you have abandoned me. Remind me that your grace is sufficient for me. Give me the assurance of your grace and strength. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Mark Stephenson

Rev. Mark Stephenson is the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Previously he served in two congregations in Michigan. He and his wife have four children.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!