I received a text the other day from a friend of mine requesting that I pray for her. Because that is a broad request I gave her a call and asked her how she was doing, and what is going on and why she needed prayer. She begins to share things that were happening in her home, which was a legitimate concern, but then she began to ramble. Because I did not want to lose focus I began to ask some questions, and after ascertaining what the root of the issue was, I concluded that it wasn’t really an issue. However because it was an issue to her I was preparing to pray with her and for her over the phone. Then she began to rant about her job and the people at her job, what another good friend of ours did not do, and this phone conversation turned one sided. She was ranting, and I was pretty much listening. After a while I had to cut her off and respectfully and carefully explain that her concerns are unhealthily misplaced.
Just like this friend, many people complain about things, that if they were to just take a pause and really thing about it, things are not so bad. You have those who complain about living in a one bedroom apartment, while there are families fighting for possessions in shelters. You have those who complain about their husbands not being a bit more assertive, while others are being beaten senseless for not saying excuse me when belching in front of their husbands. You have those who complain about their job, while there are those who are looking for the next job fair. Some complain about not being able to pamper themselves. Take a trip to Haiti and switch places with those who lost their homes. Complaint after complaint after complaint.
The Apostle Paul had a complaint, and he received his answer as quickly as the complaint. The bible states “For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2Cor 12:6-9)
Paul’s complaint was pride. There were men who considered themselves super apostles and were boasting about their accomplishments to where the people were in awe. Paul was fighting back the desire to show them, that they have nothing to boast about, and if anyone is worthy to boast it would be him. This desire was eating at him so badly that he knew it was the devil, and prayed to God to help him perish the thought. He called it “a thorn in his flesh.” It was not enough to destroy him, but it was an irritation. It was eating at him, to where God said, “My grace is sufficient.” Paul was worried about an insignificant issue to the point where it nearly caused him to not see the big picture. God was saying be glad that you are going through it, because My works will be seen after you overcome it. The bible states “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (Ja 1:2-4) In other words what won’t kill you will make you stronger. Ride it out.
We may have a thorn in our flesh, that is symbolic to an irritation, but God’s grace is what keeps us from not falling victim to it. So instead of complaining about living in a one bedroom apartment, show gratitude and say thank you God for your grace, because I could be homeless. Instead of complaining about your spouse not being more assertive, say thank God for even having a spouse where the divorce rate is at an all time high. Instead of complaining about what bothers you at your job, thank God that what you do to bother someone else does not cost you your job. We have become a people who whine about this and that, and not step out of our spoiled bodies and realize the blessings on our lives simply because of God’s grace. Give God thanks and suck up whatever you are going through, because somebody is out there praying to God that they had what you had, and if you are not careful God will give it to those who are more appreciative. Amen!