October 1st, 2017

“Or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a
thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 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.
 – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Cancer is a devastating and debilitating disease. It brings pain not only to the person but also to the people around them. I have often wondered how does this help in our spiritual growth. Yes, I do go through those moments when I visit the people at home, hospitals and doctors offices. I don’t have an answer but I do know it does in time.
Since most of you know, my friend Dan Peterson is going through this ordeal, I’m beginning to see God’s grace is sufficient. As I stood at Dan’s bedside, I was able to see what God has accomplished through his life. He has served people with disabilities over thirty years and has seen suffering and pain every day. Before that in Vietnam, he was a medic with the Marines and saw first hand the pain and suffering of his fellow soldiers. He did not just watch it, but made an effort to ease their pain and also share the love of Jesus Christ through his compassion. Through his servant hood many a young person has been mentored and are in service to God.
As Paul’s life underscored this truth, he was given a thorn in his flesh, three times Paul pleaded with the Lord to take it away
from him. But, the answer was “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character it also deepens our worship because in admitting our weakness, we affirm God’s strength. Max Lucado in his book Grace shares: “A thorn in the flesh. Such vivid imagery. The sharp end of a thorn pierces the soft skin of life and lodges beneath the surface. Every step is a reminder of the thorn in the flesh. The cancer in the body. The sorrow in the heart. The child in the rehab center. The red ink on the ledger. The felony on the record. The craving for whiskey in the middle of the day. The tears in the middle of the night. The thorn in the flesh.
“Take it away,” you’ve pleaded. Not once, twice, or even three times. You’ve out prayed Paul. He prayed a sprint; you’ve prayed the Boston Marathon. And you are about to hit the wall at mile nineteen. The wound radiated pain, and you see no sign of tweezers coming from heaven. But what you hear is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Grace takes on an added dimension here. Paul is referring to sustaining grace. Saving grace saves us from sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. It surprises us in the middle of our person transatlantic flights with ample resources of faith. Sustaining grace promises not the absence of struggle but the presence of God.”
As I watch Dan leaning toward heaven, I also see the legacy he is leaving behind. I see his unique spiritual depth, his coworkers faith in God’s goodness. I see the indelible impact he has made in my life. He is graciously allowing God to show forth His power to the rest of us. Yes, it is agonizing to see our loved ones suffer. God shows the futility of the sin filled world is only a passing phase for the eternity of glory awaiting us. So let us draw closer to the Lord who loves us and redeems us. Yes, we will all one day meet back together without our pain, heartache and suffering in HIS glorious presence.
Our God is an awesome God in spite of our struggles on the earth. Let me close with what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:8,
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Enjoy the beautiful fall and rejoice in Him. Have a wonderful Fall.
God Bless.
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker