Thorns In The Flesh 3
Psalms 119:71: It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Psalms 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Unbelievers with physical illness and their loved ones are often more open to trusting Christ than those who are healthy. And believers with physical illness are often more dependent upon God than those without illness. On the other side of this issue, many believers and unbelievers with physical illness become hardened toward the Lord. Physical illness often makes apparent the spiritual condition of individuals. Physical illness brings those who are close to the Lord closer to Him. It also often brings erring believers back into fellowship with Him. I have some of the easiest ministry in the world. It requires less discernment to learn the spiritual condition of physically sick people than of those who are healthy. It is more difficult for them to be dishonest about their spiritual beliefs, or hide them. Individuals with physical illness are often a field that is white already to harvest. (John 4:35)
In the past ten or so years, on 4 of the last 5 occasions I have been hospitalized, there have been nurses, hospital employees or patients who were open to hearing the gospel and received Christ. I am firmly convinced that my ministry to sick people has made me more fruitful among healthy people as well. A dear sister in the Lord named Cindy has been a faithful and fruitful witness when she has been hospitalized. Even doctors have noticed her wonderful relationship with the Lord. If you are a believer who is discouraged that you are not very successful in sharing the gospel, try sharing it when you are sick or when you encounter others who are. I am certain that it will make you more fruitful for the Lord.
2 Corinthians 11:29: Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 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.
Family Bible Notes:
My grace is sufficient; to enable you with patience to bear it, support and comfort you under it, and make you more happy and useful than you would be without it. Glory in my infirmities; because they fit me better for the service of Christ, and make it more manifest that it is his power which sustains me, and gives success to my labors.
John Wesley*s Notes:
My strength is more illustriously displayed by the weakness of the instrument. Therefore I will glory in my weaknesses rather than my revelations, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me.
Matthew Poole*s Commentary:
For my strength is made perfect in weakness; for my Divine power, in upholding and supporting my people, is never so glorious as when they are under weaknesses in themselves. When they are sensible of the greatest impotency in themselves, then I delight most to exert and put forth my power in them and for them, my power then is most evident and conspicuous, and will be best acknowledged by my people.