I’ve recently consulted numerous doctors. For years I’ve suffered from a heat intolerance that often erupts into hives. Although it only lasts for about ten minutes at a time, it’s excruciating. I was told it’s called Urticaria but a cure has never been found. The only advice they could give was for me to take an antihistamine every day. My wife and I jokingly called it my “thorn in the flesh.”
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
II Corinthians 12:7
But I wonder how close to the truth it is. I stumbled across a verse today that I couldn’t stop thinking about. A verse that emphasizes the fragility of mankind and the sovereignty of the Lord.
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exodus 4:11
The Lord spoke to Moses from a burning bush, commanding him to go to Egypt and rescue his people from the hands of Pharaoh. Moses offered advice to the Lord and said that somebody else should go. He was not eloquent enough in speech. Then the Lord spoke verse 11. God continues and tells Moses that He will speak through him if he would simply obey.
But that verse soared off the page at me. Did I read it right? God makes people deaf. God makes people blind. It was God’s choice to create people unable to speak. If mankind had never sinned, all would be born perfect. But since that factor has been thrown into the equation, now God creates people with these ailments.
I always excused handicaps as simply the result of living in a depraved world. But in doing so, my theology fell far short. In John 9, Jesus and his disciples came upon a man who had been born blind. According to Exodus 4:11, God had purposefully created this man with eyes that didn’t function. The disciples inquired as to why the man was blind.
Did his parents sin? Was it because of this man’s sin? Jesus denied those as reasons and simply stated this: ““It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Now, having read about Paul’s thorn in the flesh and this man’s blindness, I could see a common theme. God wanted glory in Paul’s life so he kept Paul from being conceited. God wanted glory in the other man’s life so he created him blind (Jesus would later miraculously heal the blind man).
In both, God created them in certain ways to bring himself glory.
This gives my ailment a whole new meaning. A completely brilliant purpose. The blind man called out for a cure, and it was given after years of suffering. Paul cried out for relief on three separate occasions, and yet was given none. He went on to say this about the Lord’s response.
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Now, my plight isn’t near the severity of the blind, deaf, or mute. But its still difficult. God has revealed through Scripture reasons for our physical difficulties. Jesus’ full concentration was not on this life, but his kingdom. He wasn’t satisfied with just making people comfortable, happy, and content. But driven with his mission to relieve the world from sin and its destructive consequences forever, He was always looking forward to eternity. This life is short, and the physical limitations that weigh us down every day, will only torment us for a little while.
Jesus pointed to the time when sickness, pain, and death are no longer a factor. But until that time, God uses handicaps, illnesses, and limitations to make us holy. Consider it joy, all you reading this, when you face trials because the testing of your faith will bring maturity. And when we mature in our faith, God is magnified.
Allow your struggles to make you better, not bitter. In your imperfect condition, give God glory, not grief. God created and formed you exactly how you are knowing full well the struggles you’d face because of it. These struggles cause us to rely on Him more. Relying on Him more reminds us how weak we are. But when we are weak, through Christ, we are strong.