Tests, Tribulations and Thorns

Selah!  …stop, meditate for a moment on this nugget of truth, and incorporate it into your life!

This month I’d like to touch on the subject of steadfastness during difficult times.  There are numerous teachings in Christian circles that suggest God is in control of every event that takes place in our life.  I totally disagree with the premise of this false doctrine, and reject the concept that God is the one who is behind the various tests that we encounter.  The following passages clearly state that God is NOT the author of these tribulations, and James 1:13 plainly states that no one should even suggest that God is involved with these temptations, tests, or trials!  In fact, it demands that we go to Him for help when faced with these difficulties, for we know that He is the true author and finisher of our Faith! (Heb. 12:2)

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

James 1:2-15 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~  5 If any of you lacks wisdom…ask God  ~  6 But…Ask in faith… ~  8 …a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Certain Bible teachers will quote scriptures referring to the “Tribulations of Job,” and then point to “Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh” as evidence that God is the one who sent these difficulties into our lives.  I would challenge each of them to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” and consider the context of these passages before blaming our Heavenly Father for these “various” temptations, tests & trials.  God is not the source of our “sufferings,” but sent the Comforter to help us get through them.

Paul experienced every kind of test & tribulation, and called them by a very specific name!  These tests & tribulations were referred to as his “Thorn” in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  I’ve never understood how some Bible teachers miss the obvious statement that it was a “messenger of Satan” that was sent to hinder Paul’s ministry.  Just as Paul’s Godly assignment faced difficult times, the assignment God has given each of us will also face difficult times and hindrances meant to stop us!

Even when Paul prayed that these “thorns” would “depart” from him, God never promised that He would remove them.  Instead, He promised that He would provide the Grace necessary to overcome and stand steadfast during each assignment the Enemy threw at Paul.  Paul gives us a very detailed list of the tribulations he experienced in 2 Cor. 11:23-33, but he also testifies that “out of them all the Lord delivered me!” [2 Timothy 3:10-12]

What “Thorns” have you experienced in life?  If you’ve recognized the assignment God has placed upon your life, you can probably identify an area where the “messengers of Satan” have also come to “steal, kill and destroy!”   They have their own assignment to hinder any progress you’ve been making in your attempts to fulfill your God-given assignment!

Fortunately, we can claim the same answer God gave to Paul!  His grace will always be sufficient to remain steadfast through these difficult times!  We can purpose to “come boldly before the Throne of Grace” [Heb. 4:16], and obtain His Mercy, and His Grace to help us in our time of need!  When the Enemy throws his “fiery darts” at us [Eph. 6:16], God’s Grace is sufficient to strengthen our Shield of Faith and help us quench every test, tribulation & thorn!  ~ Selah!