A number of years ago, I was enlightened to the motivating factor, which transformed a tenant of a run down apartment into a successful businessman, with a vast empire of land holdings. He informed me that his first landlord made his life so miserable, that he vowed to himself to never rent another piece of property. Thus, began his prosperous career in the real estate business.
Where the average person would cower at this overbearing thorn in the flesh, this man possessed the fortitude to use the negative arrogance energy of his first and last landlord to propel him to top of the heap.
It’s safe to say that we many times fail to recognize a gift from God, because it’s gifted wrapped with paper made of turmoil and opposition. Even Nathanael who would later become a disciple of Jesus the Christ, at first sight couldn’t see Jesus as the great gift of salvation to mankind, for we read in John 1:46 “…, can any good thing come out of Nazareth (Jesus’ hometown)? Philip said to him come and see.” I believe Philips response is still applicable for us today, for we are not to judge negatively those things which we can’t understand, but by faith trust in an all knowing God and continue moving forward to see what God will do with a seemingly adverse situation (2 Cor. 5:7).
“So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key. ~The Eagles, “Already Gone”
Isn’t that so true? One such key is found in James 12:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance (patience) have its perfect result (work), so that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).”
An exciting new door is always opened for those who with patience allow God to use those things which are seemingly contrary to mold and shape us into people with Godly character and fortitude (read – Rom. 5:1-5 & Prov. 27:17). Think about it, has worrying or being depressed about a problem, ever produced anything other than a bitter soul and a variety of health issues?
What an excellent example we have in Jesus Christ the God/man (John 1:1-5, 14), “…. Who for the joy set before Him endured the (death) cross, despising the shame.” Now, the source of His joy is found in the ladder end of this verse, “(…and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:2).” Doesn’t scripture tell us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us (Rom 8:11)? Well then, why not smile – knowing that God will not allow anything to keep you down?
DON’T TAP OUT – BUT TAP INTO GOD’S POWER!
When the apostle Paul implored the Lord three times to be released from a tormenting spirit (thorn in the flesh), God’s response to him was “….My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” and it was then and there that Paul understood God’s plan and thus proclaimed “…Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Cor. 12:7-9).”
This my friends is the great Christian paradox: for when we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace (un-merited & immeasurable favor) of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we see ourselves weak in ourselves, then we go out of ourselves to Christ, and are qualified to receive strength from him, and experience the supplies of divine strength and grace (Phil.4:13).
If there was ever a man who experienced one thorn after another, it would have to be Joseph the highly favored son of Jacob (Gen 37:3), who at age 17 was bound and sold by his own jealously driven brothers as a slave and then taken to the land of Egypt. Then to dig his thorn deeper into his flesh, he later spent 2 years in prison, because he refuse to accept the sexual advances of the sex starved wife of his master, who then falsely accused him of attempted rape (Gen 39:7-20). But what I found very interesting about Joseph’s nightmare like existence was that despite being slammed in the asphalt by contrary predicaments, “….. The Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners (Gen 39:21).”
So you see my friends, it’s not how hard people, places & things slam you into the asphalt , it’s all about how much you cling unto God’s grace , that will determine how much bounce you have! Not only did Joseph prosper in the Jail house, but at age 30, God exalted him a Ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:38-46).
This would seem like a perfect place to end this article, but it seems that God is more concerned with a person’s character than one’s position, for the day came when Joseph was confronted with his heart breaking past, as he stood face to face with the very brother’s who because of their hatred sold him into slavery.
Here we see a type and shadow of the Christ who was to hang on the cross as the atonement for the sins of mankind, which in turn activated God’s covenant of Grace between a sovereign God and His undeserving children (Rom5:1-21).
Instead of harboring anger and resentment, Joseph stood before his brothers, began to weep and said “Do not be afraid for I am God’s place. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Gen 50:17-21).”
Yes, my dear friend’s life is full of thorns, but let’s always remembers God is able to turn what was meant for our harm into a blessing! Isa. 55:13 “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the LORD, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” Whoa – that’s sweet!
Thank you once again for allowing me to share with you my experience, strength & hope.
Your friend always in Christ Jesus.
Rev. Joe A. Rivera
Pressing On Faith Ministries
Temecula, CA U.S.A.