18 November 2017
Reading: Psalm 124; 2 Corinthians 11-13
7…I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! 8 At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, 9 and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. 10 Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG)
Paul lived with a handicap that kept him from doing all he wanted to do. It might have been eye disease or recurring attacks of malaria contracted during his time living in the lowlands of Ephesus or even epilepsy. Whatever it was, it weakened and hindered him and he earnestly thought he would be better off healed.
Over time, God taught him that his limiting handicap:
• Kept him from being proud.
• Kept him in touch with his limitations.
• Drove him to passionate prayer.
• Ensured that his success completely depended on Christ’s strength.
• Taught him that dealing well with pain and limitations strengthens the spirit.
I have so much to learn! As I deal with some of the pains and limitations of getting older, it’s hard for me to make the adjustments this reality requires. I so admire those I know who deal with physical handicaps or other issues that limit their freedom (Being wheel-chair-bound, in declining health, raising their grandchildren, experiencing loss of investments that requires living out the retirement years on a very limited income, and so many other “handicaps.”)
Father, Thanks for the example of Paul and of others in my world whose lives are a continuing lesson in grace—in overcoming limitations, in living within the boundaries of limitations—grace! Let every handicap I live with be a gift to teach me to trust and depend on Jesus. Let me be an encourager to others and not a whiner. Amen.