|…there was given to me a thorn in the |
flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment
me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord
to take it away from me. But he said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for
my power is made perfect in weakness.”
|—2 Corinthians 12:7-9|
As a toddler, my younger sister liked to put stones from our driveway in her mouth. To avoid this danger, my mother used a tether on my sister and tied her to the laundry pole in the backyard while Mom hung the wash on the line. Unpleasant for a time, this method of guarding my sister’s behavior proved extremely helpful in preventing the “stone eating.”
Have you ever felt tethered to something that kept you from the freedom you would like? Certainly, God can use the tethering cord for a short time. But, what about those times when He tethers us for a very long term?
Perhaps you feel tethered to a financial problem, a debt that won’t go away, or a life of poverty. Maybe you have a chronic physical problem that severely limits your activities, even those you would like to accomplish for the Kingdom of God. Or, maybe you feel tethered to a boss who, regardless of your prayers and hard work, fails to commend you or pay you what you are worth.
The Apostle Paul, in the passage at the beginning of this blog post, recounted a physical problem with which God had tethered him. He had begged God to take it away. But instead, God, in His overarching love and wisdom, denied Paul’s request.
When we ponder this kind of experience, we all ask, “Why?”
Paul knew why God had given him this weakness. Prior to this, Paul had experienced the privilege of a divine revelation. In order to keep him from conceit, God made him humble through this “thorny” physical limitation—perhaps something that disfigured his appearance or hampered his clear vision.
As I considered Paul’s situation, I realized that my mother had tied my sister to the laundry pole for the sake of her protection—nothing else. We must consider that perhaps our long term trial has come from God for just such a purpose. What sin might He have kept us from through the trial? What accident or wrong choice has He shielded us from?
Then again, perhaps God saw how self-reliant we had become, how easily we go about our own agenda, leaning on our own feeble ability and power, rather than on His enormous ability and power.
Perhaps, God wants us all to realize that, like Paul, we need His strength instead of our own, and that “His power is made perfect in our weakness.”
Another reason for God to tether us comes from the reality that He has other people whom He wants to bless through us. Sometimes, to reveal His grace, people need to see the way in which He does the impossible for us. Even Lazarus’ death , recorded in John 11, came about because Jesus wanted to be glorified through Lazarus’ resurrection.
We may never know the reason for the bothersome, painful, joy-sucking tether we wear. But, we can get ever-closer to trusting our wise and loving Savior with the decision He has made to tether us.
Let us pray to have the grace, strength, and dedication to Him and to His cause that will result in His glory! Amen.