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This discipline is suited and adapted to each several soul. This is not, that all speculations as to what was the nature of Paul's thorn in the flesh, end in nothing. God has wisely seen fit to leave it untold. Were it made known, we would have perhaps settled that it was not ours, and then have left it there.
To have left it untold, gives us to see that there was a great principle of God's dealings, seen in this man's case, but applicable to all. Each would have his suited" thorn? The very thing that would counteract his natural tendency; and SO act as to strip him of every pretension to power, and break any fancied strength of man.
We see this on every hand, we see it better in he reason why, I doubt our own soul's history. For it is not always that another is permitted to know the secret thorn which rankles in the breast, such as that we would give the world to remove, ere we know the "end of the Lord." He presses home the "stake " which pins us to the earth, as it were, in very powerlessness.
You see this at times, for instance, in incongruous marriages. The soul is worn away, especially in a sensitive, spiritual mind; and there is no earthly power which can change the sorrow, and heavenly deliverance is withheld. Again, there is a child whose conduct breaks the heart of a parent: every measure fails to deal with him, and the ` I thorn " rankles deeply in the wounded heart. It may be that some disgrace is permitted, as to which the soul feels that death were easier to bear. It may be that slander has stung the soul with deeper pain.
There may be, too, some human weakness, which renders the afflicted one an object of pain to those who love him, or of ridicule to others. Such as these, and the many sorrows of the way are used of God as the "thorn" to curb the energy, to break the strength of "man." Circumstances, friends, relations, health, good name, all are touched by Wisdom in this holy discipline of the soul.
These things in the hand of God are like the river banks which on either side guide the stream of waters which flow between them; rendering the waters useful and fructifying, which, if flowing onwards without these guides, would devastate all around, in-stead of bearing a blessing on their bosom. How often have we not thought what good Christians we might have been if circumstances were different; in short, if the banks which carry the river were broken down. Nay, these are the wise dealings of our God to keep us just in the channel and path where we are, to shine and glorify Him.
Like Paul of old, when the " stake " was driven home, we may cry to God, even thrice, as he: Take away this thorn, this terrible hindrance to the work of Christ, this feebleness of the vessel, this sapping of energy, this hindrance to service, this cruel "stake " from which the soul struggles in vain to be free. But no, there it remains, until we find, in the acceptance of its bitterness, the occasion of a strength, which is not of man, but the emptying us of fancied human power.
We learn our powerlessness, we feel that struggling is but in vain. ` Yet here the secret of strength is found: but not of man, not our own. The Lord comes in. He finds the vessel bereft of strength; pre-pared for that power with which He can wield it. He finds that condition which it is His to use. " And he said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest ("tabernacle over") upon me:" The surpassingness of the power is of God, and not from us."
Posted by dondegr8 at 3:25 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, October 8, 2004 3:26 PM EDT