Sunday, December 6, 2009

Faith with a thorn in your side...

We live in a world where the norm is to be selfish. It is sad, but true. Everyone feels like everything should go their way in every situation. I often have my ear caught when I hear people say "I deserve this", or "You are an amazing person, you should get this." It really does sound like a reasonable enough thing. We work hard, we do what we are supposed to, and therefore we deserve to have good things happen to us. The only problem with that is, as Matt Chandler would say, is the Bible.

The only thing that God promises us is that if we have faith in Him, and believe that he is the one true God, that he will give us eternal salvation. He does not promise us wealth, or health, or an easy life in return for our obedience, yet many wish it were that way. Jesus was the Son of God, He who knew no sin, yet he suffered horribly on the cross. Are we more deserving of an easy life than him? And before you say that since Jesus is God, it was all part of the plan, so is anything that happens to us. In Psalms 139:1-6, it is made clear that God has "searched out my path", so he not only knows, but has decided what will happen to me. Even Paul, a great disciple of Christ, faced many trials even in light of his amazing faith in the Lord. Paul was stoned (Acts 14:19-20) and put in prison (Acts 16:16-24).

So why do we face trials. In James 1:2-4, we are actually told to "count it all joy" when we face trials, because the "testing of your faith produces steadfastness." In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul has a thorn in his side that was sent from Satan in order to harass him. Paul pleads with Jesus three times to take it out, but Jesus tells Paul that His "grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness", and Paul responds by BOASTING of his weakness, so that "the power of Christ may rest on" him. He goes on to say, "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."

So why do I bring this up? Because this is not how most of us react in these situations. When everything is going great, we love to tell everyone about the wonderful things that God has done for us. But when things go badly, there is less joy in it. We do not fall to our knees thanking God every time we or someone we love gets sick, or hurt, or dies. In fact, many of us do the opposite. Yet we are called to continue to praise God through it all, so that believers and non believers alike would see the amazing power of faith, and the ability of God to do anything.

I was thinking about this after I heard our lead pastor, Matt Chandler, express in front of the entire congregation how "grateful" he was "that God found that he was worthy enough" to handle a BRAIN TUMOR. (video) This was not some simple statement that he knows God can heal from a man who has nothing to lose. He is young, married, three kids, a Godly ministry, in short, he is a man who could lose what most of us would consider everything. Yet for Matt, he knows that all of that is nothing compared to God and eternal life with Him.

As scary as it all is, Matt still has this unshakeable faith. He is not asking why God is making him suffer, and he is not asking God to remove the thorn. He is boasting in his weakness. He is not boasting about this to receive glory as the "hypocrites" in Matthew 6. Jesus says to "beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from" God, because they have already received it. He is using this opportunity to further push attention away from himself, and onto God.

So I ask this, pray for Matt. Pray for his family. Pray that he continues to have unshakeable faith in God, and continues to have the strength to praise him, even in this time of darkness. Pray that the power of Christ will continue to lay on him. And pray that God will continue to use this, not to glorify Matt, because that would be missing the point. All of this, including the amazing strength that Matt is showing, is only because of the power of Christ. So pray that this situation continues to bring glory to God, and brings us all closer to the day where we can have faith, even with a thorn in our side.

A Link to Matt's Message to the Church this morning...


  1. Amen!!! It's a hard thing to take hold of and live out. I thank God for living examples of this.

  2. thank you so much for sharing this. A very real encouragement to me today.
    prayers for Matt and his family.
    May God bestow upon him grace to do His will.