Jan. 17, 2021
A Purpose and a Promise
2 Corinthians 12:7–10; Luke 22:41–42
a. I’ve seen and spoke with people who are stuck in unchangeable, unalterable, “until then” circumstances, get to the place where they are able and willing to receive their circumstances, their afflictions, their illnesses, their losses, and their disabilities as coming from the hand of their heavenly Father.
b. In this series, we are addressing the question: What do you do when there’s nothing you can do?
c. You’re tempted to run, abandon, quit, give up, give in, or drink yourself into oblivion.
d. You can’t help but conclude:
i. I’ll never be happy again.
ii. Nothing good can come from this.
iii. There’s no point in continuing.
e. Remember, the presence of adversity does not equate to the absence of God. God is not absent, apathetic, or angry.
2. Paul’s Story:
a. Background: Paul converted to Christianity soon after the resurrection (c. 33–36). He was willing to take on the world as his mission field and for 20 years, he traveled and planted churches.
b. After becoming a Christian, something happened to Paul.
i. It was something so devastating that it ensured he would never become conceited.
ii. It was something so devastating that it caused him to beg God to change it.
c. Paul had plenty of faith that God could, but God said, “No—no matter how much faith you have Paul…” However, as we will see in the text, it was a no with a promise.
3. Paul’s Description:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given…”
a. In other words, this was given (gifted) to me.
b. The source was God and given with a good purpose.
“…a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
c. Thorn: a constant, irritating problem
d. Torment: strike with fist; beat up
e. It was painful, humiliating, debilitating and permanent.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”
“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.
f. Embracing your inability is a prerequisite to experiencing Christ’s ability.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7–10
4. Paul’s Perspective:
a. All of this hinges on what he said at the beginning. This takes us back to the profound mystery:
i. “Therefore, in order to…I was given a thorn in my flesh…My grace is sufficient…”
2 Corinthians 12:7, 9
ii. The adversity was ultimately a gift given with a purpose and a promise.
b. If you believe God can change your circumstances but chooses not to, you have the option to receive it from God as a gift with a purpose and a promise. Option because this is one of those things nobody can require you to do.
c. The purpose may not yet be known, but the promise is, “My grace is sufficient for you…”
d. Jesus’ Example In the Garden of Gethsemane…
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
a. We have permission to ask that our cups be taken, and our thorns removed, but sometimes God says “no.”
b. Sustaining grace begins with, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
c. Until Then: Would you receive it as a gift, with a purpose and a promise.