No Pain, No Gain
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. ~2 Corinthians 12:7
Whenever someone has surgery, the surgeon will prescribe medication to the patient to help them “manage the pain.” Managing pain means to alleviate the discomfort so that we do not feel it or until the pain subsides and is no longer a problem. All of us have various levels of pain tolerance. However, when we have exceeded our pain threshold, we are hurting, and hurting badly. We hurt so bad that we don’t want to move, we don’t want to talk, we don’t want to be around people, and we just want the pain to go away. What do you do when the pain doesn’t go away, but persists and even intensifies? This morning, we see God’s remedy for pain that exceeds our threshold and doesn’t go away. Let us see “no pain, no gain.”
We see the purpose.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations....” Paul tells us the purpose of pain in his life. He had been given a vision and revelation concerning Heaven. In this vision, he describes the inspiring sights and sounds of Heaven. No other man could make claim to such a privilege. Not long after, Paul experienced physical difficulty and discomfort. He recognized that God allowed this pain in his life to keep him from becoming conceited, haughty, and proud. His pain was sent to keep him “in check” from exploiting the blessing of God for his personal glory. Simply said, Paul’s infirmity was meant to keep him humble. The purpose was “lest I should be exalted above measure.”
We see the picture.
Paul said that his pain was a thorn in the flesh. The word for thorn means a pointed wooden stake. This kind of stake, when jabbed into someone, caused unbearable pain. He also described it as an adversarial attack. He said that the messenger of Satan afflicted him. Satan’s demonic entities will assault us with the intent of hurting us. He also said that this attack buffeted him. This means it was like being punched in the face or in the midsection. Paul was experiencing intense, ongoing pain that made him feel uncomfortable, weakened, and inhibited in his daily activities. Are you someone going through a painful time? A disabling condition? A substantial loss? An emotional or mental breakdown?
We see the provision.
Paul prayed three times for his pain to depart, or go away. God responded by telling him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Instead of taking away the pain, Paul received something far superior: God’s sustaining grace. It was grace that enabled him to endure the pain. It was grace that helped him to focus on God’s purpose for him in his trial. It was learning firsthand that until we are at our weakest, we will not experience the power of God in our life. God always gives us His best when we are weak. It is when we are weak that His strength is made perfect in us. We become more like Jesus when His strength is made perfect in us. We learn how to wait on the Lord and to be content in whatever state we are in. In short, Paul learned “no pain, no gain.”
We see the pleasure.
Paul concluded that he took immense pleasure in his pain and excruciating circumstances because “when I am weak, then am I strong.” Our journey of faith must include pain. Without it, we cannot realize how God’s power really works in us. It doesn’t mean it will be easy or the pain will go away, but it means God meets us where we are our weakest. Whatever you are going through, God loves you and wants your extreme to be the opportunity for His extraordinary.
Have a grace-sustained God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Titus-Philemon