The Thorn in the Flesh Ed Miller Jan. 10, 2021

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Before I apply the indispensable principle, I want to share a verse that has meant so much to me.  Psalm 134:3, “May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.”  I wanted to begin by expressing my thanks, and my Lilian’s thanks.  We trust the God who made heaven and earth.  That’s who provides all of our needs.  But this verse says, “May the Lord bless you from Zion, who made heaven and earth.”  And you are Zion, and the Lord that made heaven and earth has blessed from Zion.  We thank the Lord, and we thank you.

As we come to look in God’s word there’s a principle of Bible study that’s absolutely indispensable, and that’s total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  It’s been a wonderful gathering this morning.  There’s been a lot of reality, and I know that without the Spirit of the Lord, all these wonderful things about God’s love and God’s grace and care, and all, without His Spirit, it’s all theory.  We don’t want a theory.  We read that His words are Spirit and Life, but that needs to be made Spirit in us, and Life in us.  By itself it’s Spirit and Life, but we need God to make it Spirit and Life in us.

In Psalm 107 over and over again we read verses like these; verse 6, “They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of all of their distress,” verse 13, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses,” verse 19, “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He save them out of their distresses.  He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.”  Verse 28, “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses.”  There’s a verse in that chapter that says, “Fools cried, and were delivered.”  Isn’t that a wonderful verse, because I’ve been a fool, and I’ve cried, and I’ve been delivered? 

Anyway, that great Psalm that repeats over and over and over again, that they were in trouble, that they cried, and He delivered, ends with these words, Psalm 107:63, “Who is wise.  Let him give heed to these things, and consider the loving kindnesses of the Lord.”  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for who You are, and we do trust Your indwelling Holy Spirit this morning to deliver us from academics and theory, and to take us into Your heart.  We pray we would allow You to minister Life and Spirit to us.  We want to be open, and we want to be ready.  So, Lord, present Yourself to us, and then grace us to appropriate You as You manifest Yourself to us.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen

I appreciate the opportunity to share with you this morning to stand before you.  It’s a special thing in my heart to be able to address you.  It’s a very familiar passage, and I’m sure you’ve studied it before and heard it before, and I don’t expect to say anything that you haven’t heard before.  But it is a great truth perfectly fitted to the times of shaking in which we find ourselves, and a wonderful preparation for what is ahead.  At the beginning of the year I think it would do us good to (we sang that song, “Is it good to remind ourselves of these things,”) to remind ourselves.  It’s a passage referred to as Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”.  You are familiar with that.  That takes you to the chapter, but not to the theme.  As you look at it, the theme is not his thorn.  The theme, of course, is the grace of the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 

Before we read the text, let me just give you a sort of direction that I’d like to go.  I’d like to ask, and by the aid of the Lord, try to answer these three simple questions.  If I can get close to that, I think it would discharge the burden on my heart.  First of all, what is meant by the thorn in the flesh?  I think we need to see that clearly.  Exactly what is meant by the thorn in the flesh?  And then, Paul responded to that, and I would like to look at his response, because I think his response is the Bible response.  So, I’d like to consider that.  And then finally, how does the promise of God’s all sufficient grace relate to what is described as the “thorn in the flesh”?  That’s where we would like to go.

I’m going to actually read the text starting in 2 Corinthians 1:12, “Boasting is necessary, though it’s not profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.”  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.  On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.  For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth, but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.  Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself.  Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.  And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

Now since the Holy Spirit has chosen the Apostle Paul as the human illustration of the great truth that I would like to present before you, I would like to show you why I think God chose Paul to illustrate it, and not Peter, and not James and not Timothy, and not Luke, and not Moses.  He chose Paul, and I’d like to make a couple of suggestions why.  I’m not going to take time to prove it.  I think I could go through scripture passages, but I think God chose Paul as the model of the ideal Christian.  In other words, the New Covenant Christian, the Christian who understands the grace of God, I don’t think any Christian who has lived on the earth has received that truth, what it means to have Christ in you, more than Paul.  He is God’s model of the Christian life.  If you want to know the Christian life, then study the epistles of Paul; study Paul.  That expression “In Christ Jesus”, “In union with Christ”, “In Jesus”, “In the Lord”; ninety times, and more than that it’s mentioned in the Bible.  Twice John said it, and all the other times Paul said it.  God has chosen Paul as the model of the Christian life. 

This idea that Paul was chosen as the greatest Christian that ever lived, I’ll call him that.  Add to that what we read in verses one and two, “He was caught up in the third heaven.”   What’s a third heaven?  As I understand it, the first heaven is where the birds fly, and that’s the atmosphere.  The second heaven is the stellar region, and it’s where the stars are, and the galaxies are.  The third heaven is outside creation.  It’s beyond the most distant star and the most distant galaxy; it’s the presence of the Lord, the third heaven, the presence of the Lord.  Paul said, “I know fourteen years ago they stoned me.  I don’t know if I died or not, but I know about fourteen years ago there was somebody, in the body or out of the body, I don’t know, but he was caught up beyond the atmosphere and beyond the galaxies, and brought into the third heaven.” 

I know God has blessed me, and my family, and He’s blessed you, and I have an idea you’ve seen a lot of the Lord in the word.  You can give testimonies on how the Lord met you.  By a show of hands, anybody here literally been caught up into the third heaven?  For those listening by tape I’m looking around and I don’t see any hands.  The Apostle Paul, the greatest Christian that ever lived, experiencing the greatest spiritual experience anyone has ever had, and no one has had a greater experience than being caught up into the third heaven.  Glance at verse 7, in the light of that let me make a couple of observations.  Paul, in chapter 11 gave a list of his sufferings; all the stuff that God let him go through, and this thorn in the flesh is the climax of all those sufferings.  In other words, as He gives you the list, he gets 195 lashes, and he’s deprived of sleep, and he’s treading water for a few days, and he’s getting beaten up, and all that Paul went through, in the end he says, “This thorn in the flesh was the greatest thing I ever had.” 

I think on the level of earth that Paul, not counting the Lord Jesus—human—the apostle Paul is the world’s greatest sufferer.  Some would say, “Well, don’t you think that Job is the greatest sufferer?”  Job lived a 140 years after his suffering in blessing.  Paul suffered right to the end.  I remember sharing one time that Paul was the greatest sufferer, and there was somebody in the back row, and I heard him say, “I can see he never met a Red Sox fan!”  So, it depends upon your approach, I guess!  The point is, if you take the greatest Christian that ever lived with the greatest experience a Christian has ever had, and the greatest suffering, and I think Paul would be that.  That would be bad enough if the thorn talked about were like a thorn on a rose bush; if you get pricked with that, that’s not pleasant, especially if it’s embedded for a couple of days, and it gets infected, and so on.  Doug and Carol Moore, when we lived in Rhode Island, gave us a gift of a Jerusalem thorn bush, and the thorns on that were like three or four inches long.  In the American Standard of 1901 in the margin, where it says “a thorn in the flesh”, it says “stake in the flesh”, and Luther when he translated and was interpreting this, he compared it to the cross on which somebody is nailed.  The word “stake” that’s used is what you would stake up a tent with, a tent peg.  We say he had a “thorn in the flesh”. 

I don’t know what it was.  I don’t know if it was stake or what it was, but I know that it was deep, and I know that it was chronic, and I know that it was painful.  So, you have my view that the greatest Christian that ever lived in the greatest spiritual experience in his life, under the greatest suffering anybody could have, and then in verse 7, he says, “a messenger of Satan to buffet me”.  I don’t know if anyone has ever had that kind of personal concentrated attack by Satan himself, but he’s under a terrible attack, the greatest Christian, the most spiritual Christian, the greatest sufferer, under the greatest attack by Satan; that’s why God chose him, because if God’s grace was sufficient for him, and that’s what He says in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for you,” if the world’s greatest Christian who has had the greatest experience, under the greatest suffering, and is attacked by Satan himself and the messenger of Satan, that he can find the grace of God enough, I think we might have a great truth that God wants us to lay hold of.

I think the best way to get at it is to revisit those questions I posed at the beginning.  What was God referring to when He said, “Thorn in the flesh,” or stake in the flesh?  Let me give you, some people say they don’t know, but here is the answer.  What is the stake in the flesh?  The answer is that it’s anybody’s guess.  Nobody knows.  Somebody that says, “I know what it is,” they are wrong, or they might be wrong, or they might be right.  But nobody knows. 

There’s a lot of guesses. Let me give you a couple of the guesses. Some people think it was a disease of the eyes because in Galatians 4:15 he said, “Where is your sense of boasting, that you had?  I bear you witness, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes.”  Why did he say that? Galatians 6:11, he said, “See with what large letters I’m writing to you with my own hand.”  He used a huge font because he couldn’t see.  He had a problem with his eyes and some say, “That might be the thorn.” 

Do you know the chorus we sometimes sing, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,”?  Do you remember when Paul looked full in his wonderful face?  He went blind for three days, and Acts says, “scales fell off of his eyes”, and some think that’s what happened to his eyes.  He saw a Christ that he never saw and the world in the same way.  We can’t prove that’s the case, but some say that.

Other people say that the thorn was some sort of a physical thing.  In Galatians 4:13, we read that it was because of a sickness that we have the book of Galatians.  Are you ever thankful to the Lord, Galatians 2:20, “I’m crucified with Christ,”?  You wouldn’t have that if Paul didn’t get sick.  Some think he got sick with malaria because they found the trail he was taking, and he had to take a bypass, and said, “Well, I might as well go up there and start a church.”  We would not have Galatians if it were not for his sickness. 

I don’t know where they get this, but a great deal of commentaries say that he had epilepsy.  Some think his speech, like Moses, had an impediment.  He made many comments about, “I do not speak eloquently,” and so on like that.  Some say that because it’s in the flesh, it’s a moral issue.  Maybe he was lusting, and he a thorn in the flesh.  Maybe he had blasphemous thoughts, or something like that.  Some say it was his wife.  He had to be married because he couldn’t be a member of the Sanhedrin if you weren’t married, and he was a member of the Sanhedrin.  We don’t know what happened to his wife.  Some say it’s no wife; and that’s a thorn.  Single people have a hard time sometimes.  On my computer I have a list, and I pray for Godly single men.  It’s a burden on my heart.  I have another list and I pray for pastors.  That’s also a burden on my heart.  The point is, we don’t know what that was.

I’m not going to read 2 Corinthians 12:7 or 13-15, but I’ll just give you the suggestion.  There were false teachers that were going around and upsetting the Christians at Corinth and some were being overthrown, and he calls the thorn “a messenger of Satan” and he calls those who gave false doctrine “servants of Satan”, pretending they are living in light, and so on.  It could be, we don’t know for certain, that was his burden, these false teachers that were plaguing him and following him around.

Was it a physical thorn, was it a mental thorn, was it an emotional thorn, was it a moral thorn, was a spiritual thorn.  Here’s what we know, and it becomes important.  We know the Holy Spirit left it blank.  All we know is he had something.  Verse 9, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you; My power is perfected in weakness.”  Why did God leave it blank?  I think He left it blank so you could fill in the blank.  I think we all have different thorns, and you can fill in the blank, and His grace will be sufficient for however you happen to fill in the blank.  I’m glad He didn’t specify, because then I could say, “If I got malaria I know His grace would be sufficient.  If I had bad eyes, I know His grace would be sufficient.  If I was depressed, I’d know that His grace is sufficient.”  But God left it blank, and therefore there is an unlimited application for whatever your thorn is.  God’s grace is going to be sufficient.  So, it’s physical, fill in the blank.  His grace is sufficient.  If you have a mental problem, fill in the blank.  If it’s moral, fill in the blank—or emotional.  In any case and every case, whatever it is, His grace is sufficient.

I want to show you Paul’s response because in my understanding, it’s probably your response.  When that thorn goes in, we respond.  It’s a sharp thorn.  You know my son in law, Ben.  My daughter Carrie always volunteers him for stuff.  Our neighbor was moving away, and had a big thorn bush, and so she said, “When I come back my husband is going to take it down.”  So, while he was taking it down, there was one branch with a big thorn, and it let loose and hit him right in the head, and he wasn’t a happy camper.  Carrie tried to encourage him by saying, “Remember Jesus in Gethsemane.”  That didn’t help at all.  Four days later we were up in Vermont and he said, “That thing still hurts.”  So, a sister went with a tweezer and began to pull, and out it came, a big old thorn that was still in his head.

Having said that, let me get back to this.  What was Paul’s response?  Verse 8, “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.”  The first response to the thorn, whatever it is, is, “Lord, take it away, please.”  I’m going to use my own words, but I have an idea that was his first reaction was, “I don’t want this.  If fact, I hate this.  Lord, please take it away.  Remove this thing from me.  Have mercy on me, Lord, I don’t want to have this thorn.  It’s painful, it’s chronic, it’s distracting, it’s driving me crazy, it hinders my ministry, it’s upsetting my attitude, I have no peace,” and then he discovers it’s from the enemy.  So now he says, “I know for sure that you should take it away, because it’s from the enemy, and that makes me bold to ask.  I hate this thing.  Take it away.”

I’ve seen early responses in my life, and in other Christians.  Maybe there is some handicap, maybe their thorn is some limitation or some unbearable responsibility, “We’ve got to take care of mom and dad and watch over them.”  Maybe it’s some doctor’s report or some debilitating disease.  Maybe it is moral, some bondage or some addiction, and somebody can’t shake it off, and they just cry out to the Lord, “Lord, please, take this thing away. It’s from the enemy, and I know the Bible says to resist the devil.  I claim victory in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Put the devil in his place.  He’s upsetting everything.”  It sounds so spiritual. “I refuse to let Satan torment me like this.  I’m a believer, Lord, and I hate this thorn.  Take it away.”  And he gets an answer.  He’s crying out, “Less, Lord,” and God says, “More grace.”  The answer is quite different.  Paul did not see in his first response anything useful in what is described as the thorn in the flesh.  He considered it a hindrance to his life and the will of God, and certainly his peace.  “It’s spoiling my life, it’s ruining my family, it’s upsetting my goals and my direction, and I can’t function.  I’m thorn concentrating.  That’s all I can think about is the thorn.”

What was Paul’s second response?  I don’t know how long that first one lasted to take it away.  But then we read in verse 7, “For this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.”  “There was given to me.”  There came a time when he realized that God was involved in the giving of the thorn.  I said earlier that it was a messenger of Satan.  That’s what Paul said.  A messenger of Satan to keep you from pride?  The thorn was to keep him from exalting himself.  Why would a messenger of Satan work hard to keep you from being proud?  It was the messenger of Satan, but it was the message of the Lord.  It was the message of God.  God was allowing Satan to use that thing, whatever it was, because the bottom line is that God gave it.  So, his second response was, “Alright, I prayed, I hate it, take it away, but now it was given to me.  Okay.  I accept it.  I acquiesce.  Okay, Lord.  It’s called a gift and I accept it from you.  It was given to me.”

I don’t know in your individual lives what the Lord allows, and some things are very, very painful.  Isn’t it a mighty miracle when God can take you to the place where you say, “I wish this never happened.  I hate this.”?  And then somehow, by a miracle of God you say, “Okay, I accept it.”  That’s a mighty miracle of God, and wouldn’t you think that would be enough?  But there’s a third response.  2 Corinthians 12:9&10, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is perfected in weakness.  Most gladly I will  boast about weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  I’m well content with weaknesses and insults.”

“I hate it.  Take it away.  I accept it.  I glory in it.”  Talk about a miracle!!  “Thank You, Lord, because I see that this thing is redemptive.”  He’s just not accepting it.  Now he sees that God has a purpose in it.  God reminded Paul about the truth that he wanted him to see, and that is that His grace is sufficient.  He thought the thorn was all about him, and about his life, and about his discomfort.  He thought the thorn was Satan’s attempt to disrupt the program.  But when he saw that it was a gift from God, and God’s message, he says in verse 12, “I’m strong,” not after I’m weak, but, “when I’m weak.”  Verse 4, “We also are weak in Him.  We shall live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.”

We like to talk about being strong in the Lord.  I’m not trying to undermine it.  I want you to be strong in the Lord, but this verse says, “Be weak in the Lord.”  We’re weak in Him.  We live by the power of God directed toward you.  It’s redemptive.  It’s not for you, that thorn that you have.  It’s for others.  It’s for testimony.  Any weakness in me is strength for you.  And any weakness in you is power for me.  As I watch you respond, he hated it, he accepted it, he glories in it, when I see that, I’m edified and I am encouraged.  Paul saw God’s purpose, redemption for others, and he no longer prayed, “Take it away.  And he didn’t even pray, “I accept it.”  Now he’s at that place that, “I glory in it.  You are going to use me in this situation.  I prayed three times and God said, “No,” but now I see it’s from the Lord.

Let me show you the heart of this; God’s all-sufficient grace.  Verse 9, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you; power is perfected in weakness.   Most gladly, therefore, I would boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  I want to first just say a word about how sufficient his grace is.  Notice that he doesn’t say that my faith is sufficient.  It’s God’s grace that’s sufficient.  He didn’t say, “I’ll make you adequate to bear this thing.”  He just said, “My grace is sufficient.” 

I don’t think I need to remind you the depravity of man, how sinful man is.  Some of the readings I’ve done, and I’ve tried to study some of the church history, and some of the inhumane things that are done my man.  They build racks just for torture, and the dungeons and the stakes, and people burned at the stake, and thrown alive to wild animals, and decapitated, and stoned to death and all those cruelties.  When you read of some of the tortures that man has created from his sinful heart, you wonder what could possibly sustain a martyr.  There are martyrs today, where Christians are being slaughtered today as I talk to you.  What would sustain that, and what would support them, and what would buttress them?  God certainly knew, because He knows all things that a martyr would need a magnificent provision.  If you knew you were going to be burned at the stake tomorrow morning, what would you need tonight?

If you read Fox’s books on martyrs you get some idea of that.  I call attention to the martyrs because I wanted you to have in your mind an extreme case.  What grace would it take for a martyr to face the cruelties that depraved man can generate and think about?  My point is this; when he said, “My grace is sufficient for martyrs,” does God have two provisions?  Does God have grace for great sufferers, and a different grace for small sufferers?  Or is it the same grace for every problem? We have thorns.  Some of you have thorns sharper than somebody else.  I have aches and pain, and I seem to be forgetting stuff, and aging.  Some of you are going through harder stuff, and you’re looking forward to a surgery.  Others have health problems.  Does God have two or three different grades of grace; one for big problems and one for little problems? 

Here’s the reality.  You may never have Paul’s thorn, but you have Paul’s grace.  I may never have Paul’s thorn, but I have Paul’s grace.  You say, “I need ten dollars,” and God says, “All I have is a million.”  “I’ll take it!”  That’s all God has, is what He calls grace.  He gives His grace.  It’s not faith, and it’s not making me adequate.  It’s something God gives.  Exactly what is it?  What is grace?  Some people think Christians are exempt from certain things.  If I’ve got a toothache I need God’s grace.  When I have surgery I need God’s grace.  Some people approach this like it’s some sort of spiritual morphine, that God gives you a shot of grace.  “Today, Lord, things are going pretty well, and I just need a drop of grace.  Tomorrow, however, things are going to come and I might need a glass of grace.  And then next week, who knows, I might need a jug of grace, and then a pail of grace.  Give me a bucket of grace.  I think I need a truck load of grace to go through this.  I need a sea of grace.”  We get that idea from James 4:6, “He gives more grace.”  You hear the expression that He gives fainting grace to fainting men, dying grace to dying men, and whatever you need you’ll have at the time. 

James 4:7&8, “Submit, therefore, to God.  Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He’ll draw near to you.”  Submit to God and draw near to God, and He’ll draw near to you.  What is grace?  When God gives grace, He gives Himself.  That’s grace, a revelation of Himself.  It’s the knowledge of the Lord.  Don’t separate the grace of God from the God whose grace it is.  It’s the Lord Himself.  You know why His grace is sufficient?  It’s because God is sufficient.  It’s a Person.  James 1:2 might help, “Consider it joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  Let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all generously without reproach.”  You might say that doesn’t make any sense.  When you are suffering, and you are going through hard times, when you are hurting, when the thorn is raging, ask God for wisdom.  I say, “Lord, I appreciate Your word, but I don’t need wisdom.  I need sympathy.  I need a hug.  I need somebody to be tender with me.  Give me some patience.  Give me some strength.  Give me the faith to endure this.  I need relief.  I don’t need wisdom.  What is wisdom going to do with this thorn?”

I’ll tell you what wisdom is going to do; it’s what Caitlin shared with us and it’s what we sang about.  By wisdom you are going to know that He loves you, and by wisdom you are going to know He has a purpose.  And by wisdom you are going to know that He’s taking care of you, and He’s there, and it’s redemptive, and He’s not going to forsake you, and everything our sister shared with us.  That’s why you need wisdom, because grace is the knowledge that He sits on the throne 2021.  I’m suggesting that might be a good place to start to know, otherwise you are going to go crazy, and that thorn is going to drive you nuts, and you are going to say, “Oh, take it away.”  And you finally might say, “I accept it.  I glory in what God is doing, because I know He’s on the throne, and He reigns, and everything is under control.”  The wisdom of the Lord; so, when you are suffering, ask God for wisdom, and His grace will be sufficient. 

I want to close with an illustration, and perhaps you’ve heard it before.  Spurgeon, the old Baptist preacher, who was so graphic.  Spurgeon was given to depression.  It seems strange.  I don’t know all the physical sides, how chemicals can affect that.  And I’m not going there.  But I know he was given to depression, but he was also a man of faith.  So, when he was questioned about it he said, “I have learned to take my mountains into the valley with me.”  So, he was down, but never down.  And one day under a severe attack of depression he was reading chapter 12, “My grace is sufficient,” and now I’m going to give his testimony in his words:

“As I thought about that,” because he had a graphic mind, and he was very picturesque, and he actually had a photographic mind.  He could give you the page and the quote of everybody he read for thirty five years, and just recite it.  Amazing gift.  Anyway, he said, “As I was in my depression, I imagined a little fish in the sea, and the little fish got discouraged, and the fish said, ‘Waters, are you sufficient for me?’  And the sea answered back, ‘Swim on little fish, my waters are sufficient for you, and millions like you.’  Then my mind went to the little bird flying in the sky, and the bird asked the atmosphere, ‘Atmosphere, are you sufficient for me?’  And the atmosphere responded, ‘Fly on little bird, my atmosphere is sufficient for you and millions like you.’  My mind went back to the days of Joseph in Egypt, and I pictured a little mouse in the graneries of Egypt, and the little mouse said to the granaries, ‘Granaries, are you sufficient for me?’  And the granaries responded, ‘Eat on little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for you and millions like you.”  And then he added to the testimony, “That’s the first time in my Christian life I ever experienced a holy laugh.  I laughed out loud.  I laughed when I considered the littleness of my thorn, and the sufficiency of His grace.”

Brothers, and sisters in Christ, I don’t know your thorn in 2021.  Fill in the blank.  I know your response, and you aren’t going to like it, “Take it away,” but God is sufficient, and you are going to come to the place where you say, “Alright, I accept it.”  And by a mighty miracle of God, He’s going to take you to the place, “I don’t only accept it, but I glory in it, because it’s redemptive.  It’s for somebody else.” 

Swim on little fish.  Fly on little bird.  Eat on little mouse.  Live on little Christian.  The grace of God is the Life of God, and the Life of God is sufficient.  Everything you need for this moment, and everything you need for this coming year, and everything you need for the rest of your life, and for all the ages of eternity, you find in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s all in a Person; it’s all in Him.  If you lack wisdom, ask and He’ll give without grudging.  He’ll let you see how safe you are.

Father, thank You for Your precious word.  You have promised that grace is sufficient, and not it will be.  When we pray for ourselves we don’t have to ask you to make that grace sufficient.  It is sufficient, and when we pray for others we don’t have to ask You to make Your grace sufficient for them.  It is sufficient.  Give us the faith to lay hold of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

(above transcript can be downloaded in a Word document from