God whispers in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain. CS Lewis
There are many days I think about Paul. I can relate to Paul’s passion for his ministry. I absolutely love my calling. I pour myself into my work whole heartedly. I’m very thankful I have a husband who not only understands this, but encourages, supports, and helps me in my calling. It’s my life passion and calling and how cool is it that I get to do this kind of ministry every day?
Paul was passionate about his ministry and calling. He traveled, taught, wrote letters, prayed, and traveled some more. Even now, his words comfort me, encourage me, guide me. Paul had so many strengths and was able to accomplish so much in his life. God was able to use him to reach how many people during and after his lifetime? I want to be like Paul. I want God to use me. I don’t have to be famous (don’t think I would like that much honestly), but I want to pour myself out in God’s service and will, ministering and exhorting. I want to stand before Him some day and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Paul also was aware of a nagging health issue, a physical infirmity he called his “thorn in the flesh.” It apparently hindered his service at times. He commended the Galatians for not despising or rejecting him because of his infirmity. But it’s clear that Paul ministered in spite of it.
Paul pleaded with God to remove the thorn. Accepting chronic pain or physical infirmities does not mean we are happy we hurt or that we just give up. I’m sure Paul thought, like I do at times, that he would have been able to do so much more if God had only restored his health. But God lovingly responded that His grace was sufficient. His strength made perfect in weakness.
Health is a gift of God, but it is not a requirement for spiritual service. Many people have physical ailments, chronic pain, or debilitating diseases. I’m sure they think that if God would only heal them, then they could truly minister for Him. But examples such as Joni Tada, Charlotte Elliott, Fanny Crosby, David Ring, and scores of others remind me that God often responds that His strength can be made perfect in any weak vessel that is completely dependent upon Him.
The more I grow in Him, the more I’m learning how totally unable I am to live up to His standards, yet the more I try to do some days in my own strength and knowledge. I so often find myself back on that wheel of works which takes me no where yet, all the while, Jesus is standing there reminding me that I need to simply live and trust the grace He purchased for me. It’s not about how much I get done for Him. It’s not about doing great things for Him. It’s simply a matter of walking in His grace. The only requirement for service in God’s kingdom is a humble and obedient heart. He will do the rest.