Joel Westphal - Williams and Perth Special Meetings - May, 2006

Hymn 202

I was reading in the 11 Corinthians 12:7 where Paul says, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” This was Paul’s experience and here he felt that he had a thorn in the flesh, something that was keeping him humble, something that would rise up and cause him not to do the will of his Father, something that would always cause him to seek the face of the Father. Because of this constant uprising, constant irritation to turn his attention away from all that pleased his Father.

We read there of ‘a messenger of Satan to buffet me lest I be exalted above measure.’ How often is it in our human nature that we always, or most people, would like to seek to be good in whatever we do? And many seek to be renowned for the things that they do: whatever it may be that they specialise in, be well known, and in some ways revered.  But here Paul, conscious of the thorn in his flesh that would keep him from being exalted above measure, not getting above himself and keeping him humble. How often it is if we were left to ourselves we would rise above what we really are, rise above in our own eyes to what we are in God’s eyes.

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me.” This thorn that drove Paul to his knees: he sought the Lord 3 times for it to be removed. I can hardly understand how great that thorn must have been to Paul to make him seek the Lord 3 times in his need.

But we read of his response verse 9, “He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Wonderful thing that in our weakness we can be made strong, not strong in our own strength but in God’s strength – a strength so much superior to our own that would enable us to do that which is pleasing to God. Yet if we trusted in our own strength we would do that which is not pleasing to God. And only through our weakness God, the Lord, will strengthen us.

Paul speaks (verse 9), “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Wonderful spirit of acceptance that Paul had: gladly, most gladly will I accept these things. I cannot change them but I will accept them. Many times we know of things we definitely want for ourselves and we go through experiences that we would never have chosen for ourselves. When things come and there are choices to be made that we don’t want to make: we need to rest and accept that the Lord knows what is best for us, that His grace is sufficient for us. I was very glad for these things and it’s been a great lesson to me to just want to trust more in the grace of God. I want to decrease that He would increase in my life. I thought of those words of John, “He must increase and I must decrease,” – another wonderful testimony. That feeling of need: that anything of myself is only bringing displeasure and not bringing any pleasure to our Heavenly Father.