Having the Faith of Apostle Paul

I have always wanted to meet Apostle Paul out of any other person in the Bible. I know that is a shocker because most people say they want to meet Jesus, but I am fascinated with Paul’s letters of strong faith. So, when I heard about a movie of Paul’s life, I knew I had to see it.

Friday night, I saw Paul, The Apostle of Christ in a movie theater with assigned reclining seats!!

Assigned reclining seats is a game changer for this anxiety-filled chronic pain girl going to the movies! I hope you have one like that in your area. I was so comfortable, and I even saw that some people brought blankets. What a great idea! The seats were roomy too. If I could just figure out how to take my heating pad…

paul and luke

In the movie, Luke went to Paul where he was in prison and wrote down Paul’s wisdom for the encouragement of the early Christians. I am so thankful that we have the letters now. Without the struggles that Paul went through he probably would not have been able to give such wisdom. Paul’s writings have always given me strength and motivation to keep on toward the goal on the hard days.

Seeing in the movie what the early Christians went through and the violence committed against them just for their belief in Christ was brutal, but it helps me put some things in perspective about my chronic illness.

Paul had a “thorn in his side.” He begged for God to take it away, but God did not. The MSG versions of 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 explains how Paul felt about his thorn in a way that we can understand it better and apply it to our chronic illness.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10 The Message (MSG)

6 If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I’d still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I’ll spare you. I don’t want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you’d encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk.

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

God, why?.jpg

Have you cried out to God to take your thorn of chronic pain away? I have. I’ve gotten mad that He wouldn’t take it away. Some days, I am still kicking and screaming. It can be easy to get stuck being angry about it, but Paul boasted about his weaknesses. He had baggage just like us. Everyone has things they regret, or they don’t like about themselves, and even Paul had issues.

In the movie, he was sleeping, and the dreams of his past when he persecuted Christians haunted him. The devil’s angel of condemnation was visiting him trying to undermine his faith. Can you imagine Paul’s conversation with God?

Paul:
Please God let me out of prison and give me my life back!

God:
My grace is sufficient for you.

Paul:
I cannot handle living this way!

God:
My grace is sufficient for you.

Paul:
Please, God, take away my thorn in my side.

God:
My grace is sufficient for you.

Why didn’t God make Paul free or take away his thorn? He had the power to do it. Couldn’t Paul do more for Christ on the outside of the prison rather than inside? We think we know how the story should go but God has His own higher plan. Things we cannot see coming. We must rely on faith as Paul did.

With his thorn in his side, whatever that might have been, Paul said he delighted in his weakness. Do we resign to be miserable or can we make a conscious decision of choosing to delight and even boast in our weaknesses as Paul did? I know that the thought of this is painful because all of us really just want to be fixed, but what if that isn’t in the plan? That’s a hard thing to wrap your head around, I know.

The best thing we can do is trust in God’s bigger plan and rest in Him. Easier said than done sometimes, isn’t it? We are to have the faith of a child. Sometimes a child does not fully comprehend a situation and has to trust their parents to take care of them. We should do the same with God. We are His children, and we can trust Him.

 

bible3.jpg
Faith Comes From Hearing the Word Romans 10:17

 

 

How did I get to the point of just trusting God?

I look at scriptures to find my faith and trust. Reading the Word creates faith through the Holy Spirit. I study it by reading different versions to make sure I understand the content.  It is also important to know what context of the verse or verses such as who wrote it, to whom it was written and the culture at the time it was written.

I also read Bible commentaries that you can find online. (Scroll down the page on Bible Gateway, and you will find the free Matthew Henry’s Commentary for the Bible.)

We need to believe the truths that we have been given in the Bible and apply it to our lives. 

Praying also helps. Do you let Satan push you to your knees in despair or does it put you on your knees in prayer? Tell your thoughts to God. Tell him all of them. He can handle it, I promise. He already knows how you feel, but He wants you to tell him; so just say it out loud and get it in the light of Jesus. Sometimes we fear what God thinks of us, but we need to look at ourselves the way God looks at us. Do not be ashamed and allow God’s love to flow over you. It’s ok to be honest with God.

What hard questions are you asking God today?

How do you handle your “thorn in your side?”

Are you asking God to take your body out of the prison of your illness or are you choosing to delight in your weakness and boast in Christ’s strength?

What do you think Paul’s thorn was?

Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

 

 

Bible Verse from The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Photo Credits:

Photo by Jacob Meyer on Unsplash

Movie Photo by CTMG

Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

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