THE THORN IN THE FLESH
“My grace is sufficient for thee” [II Corinthians 12:9]
Sickness is the common lot of all people. It is no respecter of persons. Kings and subjects, rich and poor, teacher and pupil, doctor and patient, will all at some time face illness. No door is strong enough, or wall thick enough to bar the unwelcome visitor.
To be a Christian, and filled with great faith, does not prevent sickness from calling. Paul was a giant of the faith, a mighty preacher of the Gospel, and a fearless champion of Christianity. Yet even so great a Christian as Paul spoke of his “thorn in the flesh.”
What his problem was we cannot be quite certain, but it may have been some affliction of the organs of sight. The eyes are our windows on the world, and it is a great distress when the world becomes an indistinct haze to our view. Of the Galileans Paul records they were willing, if it had been possible to pluck out their own eyes for him.
Surely he who wrought mighty miracles of healing in the name of Christ would have no difficulty in banishing his own infirmity. He prayed to the Lord three times, but lo, instead of the problem vanishing, Paul was left to suffer his misery.
Did God forget to be gracious and ignore His servant’s prayer for help? No. God gave Paul a different answer, one that would comfort millions of God’s saints from then till now: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” The Lord often heals, but at other times He does not. Always He gives grace to bear the infirmity, so that His strength will be seen in our weakness.
“Sometimes Christ sees that we need sickness for the good of our souls more than the healing for the ease of our bodies” [Matthew Henry]
“OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES”
Little Tyler, barely six, likes to say his prayers aloud before going to bed. One night this week his dad, unknown to him, decided to record him praying. He prayed the Lord would heal his dad’s back. He thanked the Lord for his family and all the good things God had given him. He even thanked the Lord for making California for them to go to on the March break!
After thanking God profusely for his many blessings he finished off with this gem. “Thank you Lord for my family, “You are an excellent God!” Would not the Lord be blessed by such a prayer, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings?” [Matthew 21:16].
SAINT PATRICK’S DAY
March 17th is the traditional date of St. Patrick’s death in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland (460AD). He has been honoured as the patron saint of Ireland. North Americans, in particular, make a great fuss over St. Patrick’s Day with parties, parades, the wearing of green, even to the extent of colouring waterways, and their beer, green.
Strangely, if you go to Northern Ireland, where Patrick shepherded sheep on Mount Slemish, you will not find much activity on St. Patrick’s Day, except among the Roman Catholics. Why is this? Mainly because the Patrick they present bears little resemblance to the real Irish evangelist. Rome claims to have sent him to Ireland, but Patrick’s writings show him to have been a Biblical Christian with none of the trappings of Romanism.
Patrick’s testimony, kept in Dublin, reads like that of any evangelical believer today. Here is a small sample. “Christ with me, before me, behind me, in me, beneath me, above me, on my right, on my left.” [Christianity Daily]. The reader will note his emphasis on Christ, and not on the church or its rites. Thank God for the real Saint Patrick.
DAVID AND HIS MUSIC
Since Jubal’s invention of the harp and flute, music has been vital to life. It soothes, it expresses joy and sadness, and it helps in worship. David raised music to its highest tones as a vehicle of worship.
After he became king, he enlisted four thousand Levites to praise the Lord with musical instruments. He recruited a choir of singers, accompanied by players of harps, lyre, and psaltery, which had between ten and twelve strings. They were usually played by plucking the strings with the fingers, although sometimes a plectrum was used.
The sound was pleasing and soothing, able to calm troubled spirits and lift hearts to God. That the harp was a symbol of joy explains well why the exiled nation hung up their harps on the willows; they had no desire to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. [Psalm 137:4].