Good afternoon Church family,
The apostle Paul is an incredible example of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit. When he was Saul, you would not have found anyone more opposed to the gospel than he was. Yet even though he came around to the full knowledge of the truth, becoming Paul, he was still a work in progress. In fact he spoke of having a thorn in the flesh, something that continued to affect him and his faith journey in a negative way. We are not sure what that was, some say his eyesight was very bad, others suggest he lived with the tremendous guilt of all the harmful things he had done to the early church. Whatever it was, Paul struggled with it and asked God to remove it or release him from it many times. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 he writes “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.”
You see while Paul did not appreciate the discomfort this thorn caused him, he realised that it had an unusual benefit, a silver lining as it were. That the struggle always resulted in one thing, him crying out to God and having to more fully rely on God to get through and as a result it brought him into closer relationship with God. For Paul this unexpected gift made all of that struggle worth it. C S Lewis famously wrote “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” So if you are struggling to find meaning in the suffering, maybe this will be a comfort to you too.