Good morning everyone. It is amazing the memory our body has. As tired as I am my body refused to sleep beyond five hours again last night. It is not a lot of fun waking up at 4 am. However, it did give me more time for prayer. There is that silver lining. We are moving on to 2 Corinthians 12 this morning.
It is funny how we come to see things in a certain way. Somehow we have managed to perpetuate this idea of ying and yang, a perfect balance between good and evil. We see God and Satan in this battle of equals, knowing that the balance will be tipped and God made triumphant. In many movies and stories we see good being a victim of evil, evil being more powerful. The fact is that it is nothing of the sort. It is like the parable Jesus told about the farmer who planted his crop and his neighbour sowed weeds in with the good seeds. The farmer refused to pull the weeds because doing so would harm the good crop. Instead he sorted them at harvest.
God is not effected by evil and Satan has no power that can compare to the power of the Creator. However our Father tolerates evil because destroying it right now would also destroy parts of the good crop. So it is actually to our benefit at the moment that he tolerates it. But do you realize that Satan still answers to God? Check out the account of Job. Do you realize that God uses demons for our benefit? That's a bit more puzzling but consider this morning's passage.
Paul had received great revelations of God's Word, the purpose of Jesus and of the spiritual world. Such things were meant to motivate Paul to press on to reach as many of the lost as possible. But there was also the danger that Paul could become conceited. Look at what the Father did to keep him humbled:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. v. 7
Take note that he says that it was because of these revelations that a messenger of Satan was given to him. Given! It was given to actually help Paul to be a better servant, to keep him humble. Without humility we cannot serve our God because we get in the way of what he tells us to do. But here God is using a messenger of Satan for the benefit of Paul, only Paul did not see it as a benefit. Some have speculated that it was some kind of illness, others that it was his eye sight, others that Paul got married. Whatever it was Paul wanted rid of it. But this was the Lord's answer to his prayers:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." v. 9
Sometimes this truth is hard for us to understand but it was a lesson Paul took to heart immediately. His reaction was not one of anger toward God. He embraced this truth and states:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. vs. 9-10
This is where our Father confounds the enemy. The enemy will try to do everything to spoil us, to turn us rotten, to make us useless to our God but instead God works through all of these things to show his power. The more insults, persecutions and difficulties we face the stronger we become if we live in the truth that the Lord's grace is more than sufficient and that he is shining through our weak spots. What does he mean by "my grace is sufficient"? His grace covers everywhere we fall short. In all our mess ups, in all our failed attempts, in all our misplaced words, in all our lack of ability, Jesus covers us, forgives us, and makes up for what we could not do. Weakness, inability, limitations and mess ups are no excuse for not serving.
This is only one way in which we see how powerless the enemy is in the face of God's love for us. Remember, not only is he tolerating evil but he is using evil like a pawn for our benefit, to teach us and help us become even better. Ying and yang belong in fairy tales. That is where we need to keep such nonsense.