Friday, April 15, 2011


“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.” (Mark 1:40) NLT.

As I read this verse a few weeks ago, something struck me. Here the leper asks Jesus to make him clean, but only if He wants to. The following verse tells us that Jesus is willing, so He reaches out His hand touches and heals the man. The Leper is overflowing with joy. He then spreads the word about the great and mighty work that Jesus had done and he’s possibly praising God because of it. But Jesus only healed the man because He was willing to do so. What if the leper asked Jesus to heal him and He said no?

This is a reality I am faced with daily. Born with a disability I find myself echoing the words of the leper. “Jesus, I know that you can heal me, so please take this disability away.” In the face of my plea I wake up each morning with the Lord denying my request; and living life the same as yesterday. Limited in my physical abilities and having to navigate my daily functions with an unwanted challange.

I take comfort knowing that I don’t face this alone. Scripture calms my mood when God refuses to heal my legs; especially these words from the apostle Paul: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. ” Here, Paul confesses to having a thorn embedded in his flesh. Not wanting to deal with this ailment, he too gives voice to the plea of the leper. “Jesus, if you are willing you can make me clean.” Yet Jesus withholds His healing touch. The leper praised God and spread the news of his healing, but Paul’s testimony tells a different story.

In 2 Corinthians 12:8, Paul tells us that he cried out to God, pleading three times to make his life easier by removing the thorn from his side. The Lord hears his cry and responds by saying no. Paul doesn’t need to be healed. As the thorn remains, God is shown to be bigger then healings and miracles. By keeping the thorn in his flesh, anything Paul does to advance God’s Kingdom is merely God’s Holy Spirit using Paul’s weakness to His advantage.

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote:

“…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

Yet in his next letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is boasting about his weaknesses. This is an act of God’s grace. The fact that people are praising God in lieu of Paul’s weaknesses gives testimony to God’s power. No one can say that they are the only reason Paul’s ministry is thriving. Paul’s weakness is so debilitating that the ministry would suffer if he didn’t depend on God to give him his daily needs. This is why he boasts in his weaknesses. For when he is weak, God is strong. Without the thorn, Paul would rely on his own strength to see the ministry to survive. Giving him this thorn keeps Paul humbled. By solely relying on God’s strength, He gets all the credit. When someone praises Paul for his success in ministry, all the apostle can do is thank God for being an instrument of God’s grace.

Every day I wake up and realize that God denied my request to walk on my own. Consequently I’m forced to answer this question: what benefit does today’s challenge bring me? Most often the answer is humility and encouragement to those around me. When people see what I go through in a day they are humbled. Putting on socks is an example of little things that most people take for granted. Because of my disability I struggle with this task. Four or five attempts later, those socks are warming my toes. When people watch me do it with a smile, they are blown away. I’m not frustrated or beating myself up because I can’t do it or is so hard. It puts them in a place of humility.

In this example, all I’m doing is putting on a pair of socks. But some people see God in what I do. People see me struggle yet I’m not depressed or getting sad about it. I have joy! I’ve been told on countless occasions people are inspired by the joy in my heart and the smile on my face. Jesus gave me that smile. As I wake each morning, I receive the grace I need to face my challenges head on. Bringing glory to God in the midst of my weakness; praising God for His grace that is sufficient.

Earlier I shared about answering the question: what benefit does today’s challenge bring me? Think about some of your own challenges for a moment. What might some of them be? How might this approach to the challenges you face change your attitude about it? How does it help you see God in the situation?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this...for appreciating the little things that make life BIG!

    I need to keep these questions front and center in my heart -

    "what benefit does today’s challenge bring me? Think about some of your own challenges for a moment. What might some of them be? How might this approach to the challenges you face change your attitude about it? How does it help you see God in the situation?"

    You've encouraged me today Tim. {{HUGS}}