By: Warren Chua
Charles Spurgeon wrote his last book suffering from “recurring depression, debilitating gout, and poisonous slander.” Yet, according to scholars, when you read his book, you will see much joy and peace in the Lord regardless of his current physical, emotional and spiritual pains. Even during his last days his acquaintances recall his “hearty laughter”, his humor in both his sermons and writings. This we can say, that Spurgeon was carried along by the Holy Spirit till the end of his ministry and ultimately his death in 1892.
How many of us would be quick to defend the self from the hurts and pains we received from others manifesting our bitterness and lack of joy in the Lord. But not so the man of God. The man of God recognizes the Majesty of our Lord even in the midst of troubles. And in recognizing God’s majesty, he is able to boast in his own weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon him (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Some Christians resist the weakness in them in the midst of troubles. Persisting attempts to take control and turn circumstances in relative subordination. But this displays ignorance of God’s divine sovereign power and thus deprives the true joy that is due in the Lord alone for His grace is sufficient.
“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. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Paul had revelations that no commoner has ever seen. A “thorn in the flesh” is the gracious requisite of such divine experience to humble the depraved heart. The Christian’s suffering is not a display of imperfection on God’s sovereign rule but a display of God’s perfect power and love to His child. We Christians suffer from our own “thorn in the flesh” but it is God’s gracious way of revealing to us that it is His grace that is sufficient for us and not our “surpassing greatness of revelations,” for God’s “power is made perfect in (our) weakness.”