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Thoughts From Laura Story

Greetings Friends,

This week's "thought" comes from a devotional by Laura Story entitled "What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?" It contains her thoughts on God, suffering and trials. Today I present you with portions of two entries - When We Don't Understand and The Blessed Thorn. Enjoy.
"Can you understand the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?"
Job 11:7


"Sometimes, things happen, and we simply can't understand why. When life takes a turn for the worse, we wonder why, but no matter how hard we think or how desperately we try, we simply cannot fully understand God's plan. And that's okay with God. In the Book of Job, God's word teaches us that He is sovereign; that He reigns over His entire creation (including us), and that He isn't required to answer all our questions (Job 38-41). So what should we do? Well, for starters, we can recognize God's sovereignty and accept the fact that His secrets are "beyond our reach." Then, we can turn to God's Word for guidance... Your heavenly Father may not always reveal Himself as quickly as you would like. And He may not always answer your prayers with a resounding yes. But of this you can be sure: God is sovereign, God is here, God is love... He leads you along a path of His choosing, not your choosing. Your challenge is to watch, to listen, and to follow. Yet even when we can't understand God's plans, we must trust His plans."

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." 

II Corinthians 12:9

"It's hard to remember what age I was when I was first pricked by a thorn or the moment that I was first stunned by the elusive beauty of a rose. Trying to grab it, I immediately felt the prick of the thorn. Such was my first introduction to a profound paradox: In the midst of great beauty, there is often real pain. Paul, in one of his most candid moments in Scripture, talked about a thorn that had dug into his flesh. He didn't tell us what that figurative thorn was, but he did admit it caused him great pain. He also admitted that he pleaded with God, asking him to take the thorn away. Yet the Lord refused to do so. Paul prayed for God to ease the pain by altering his circumstances, but His answer was a resounding no.
Theologians have speculated for centuries over the nature of Paul's malady, but for me, the real message of this passage lies not in the exact nature of Paul's illness, but in the simple fact that God could have done something but chose not to. Why did God withhold healing from Paul? Was it because God couldn't? I certainly doubt that the Almighty God, the One who parted the Red Sea and delivered Jesus from the grave, would have had any trouble removing Paul's thorn. But, just because God can do all things, doesn't mean He is obligated to do so. The only thing restraining God's actions are His own character and His own goodness and His own divine purpose. Another common assumption is that God left Paul to suffer because Paul deserved it. Prior to becoming a Christian Paul had actually persecuted and killed those following "the way" (of Jesus). Is it possible Paul's "thorn" was simply God's retribution? I don't believe so. Though Paul deserved death, God's Word makes it clear that Jesus paid for Paul's sins on the cross -- the same sacrifice Christ has made for you and me.
God's words to Paul come not only as explanation, but as comfort as well: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." God left the thorn so that His power could be displayed all the more clearly in Paul's life. In the midst of Paul's struggle, God's grace -- all the unmerited peace and strength that Paul would ever need -- was always available. And the very same grace that gave Paul strength is available to you, right here, right now."
In agreement with Laura's first entry Charles Spurgeon once said: "Cheer up Christian! Things are not left to chance. No blind fate rules the world. God has His purposes and those purposes are fulfilled. God has His plans and those plans are wise and can never be dislocated." Likewise, in relation to her second entry Spurgeon once said: "God is too good to be unkind, and too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart." 

Both of them are right. It all comes down to trust. And our ability to trust all comes down to the trustworthiness of God. It all comes down to what we believe in relation to the nature and character of God. For we will only be able to trust God in trials to the degree that we believe -- because of who He is -- that He is trustworthy. Only when the issue of what God is like is settled (and it really can't be apart from the revelation He gives us in His Word and supremely in the Gospel) will that trust do away with the soul's incessant clamoring to understand "why"?

In the Bonds of the Gospel, Pastor Jeff

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