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. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. 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. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Suffering burns away pride, as it did in Paul’s life. When Paul prayed three times for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh,” he saw that it was God’s will for him, and he accepted it.
Many Christians are defeated at this point because they are not sure that they are in the will of God, so they are not sure if the suffering is really His will for them. Without going aside into a Bible study on knowing the will of God, we can just present this thought. Our great God “works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28). If we consciously submit to His will, He will give His divine direction. Our suffering and persecution can be placed in His hands by a simple act of our will. No believer needs to suffer alone and in doubt. Commit it all to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).
In an unscheduled visit to Lat Village in Vietnam, a co-worker had the joy of visiting Father Tranh, the leader of the local church. Realizing the isolation and loneliness of this leader the group with our co-worker immediately asked how they could pray for him.
Not having an abundance of fellowship, he started sharing his hardships and needs. He confirmed the persecution and discrimination against the tribal people as already expressed by all the leaders they had met in Saigon. He shared the hardship of ministering to his people and the difficulties of restriction both by the police as well as the dense forest that limited his movements.
Father Thanh had 6,000 members in his congregation and found it an overwhelming task to be the only leader. “How do you do it brother?” the group asked. “How many people assist you in this enormous task?”
“I am only me!” he responded and immediately went on to conclude his answer, “but even though I am limited, the Holy Spirit is unlimited.”
RESPONSE: Today I will recognize that God may send suffering into my life to burn away my pride.
PRAYER: Pray for suffering church leaders around the world today—especially Father Thanh.