Of a Dangerous Prayer and a Meat Grinder

I’ve prayed on various occasions for God to reveal sin to me, that I might not sin against Him. This seems to be one of those prayers that God is always happy to accommodate. As a result, I have been shown new depths of sin in my heart over the last few weeks that can seem overwhelming at times. This is a good place to be, I suppose, as long as I don’t give in to despair. But I’ve been teetering on the edge of that for a little while.

Thus, the meat grinder. Seeing sin in my life feels like going through a meat grinder where I’m chopped up into fine powder. This, to me, is one of the most interesting paradoxes in the Christian life. On the one hand, God gives us his Holy Spirit as believers in Jesus. The Holy Spirit manifests himself in numerous ways, not the least of which is spiritual gifts. So he has endowed us with abilities that are to be used for his glory. But in 2 Corinthians 12, in one of my favorite passages of the Bible, Paul and God have a dispute over a certain “thorn in Paul’s flesh” which he pleads with the Lord to remove. God doesn’t remove it, but tells him that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Hmmmm. Weakness. How then is one to square these two seemingly opposite concepts? We are given special abilities by the Holy Spirit to serve the body, but it is through weakness that God’s power is perfected.

Which is it God? Are you glorified through weakness or ability? If it is through weakness, then why did you give Paul (and all believers, for that matter) such spiritual gifts? But if through ability, why would you weaken him?

The dilemma is this. If one believes firmly that God has given each of us gifts to use for his glory, and confidently seeks to use those gifts, then the charge of being “proud” could be leveled against that person. But if one embraces their weakness and desires for God’s power to work through him or her on that basis, then do they take their God given talents and bury them? This is not a contradiction in principle, just in practice.

This is something that has consumed my thoughts to a great extent, and I will write more about it. But first, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

Talk to me!

  1. I think these two conditions must be present for us to say along with Paul, I am what I am by the grace of God. All these good things, gifts and so on, come from the hand of the Father but how easily we forget this truth. It is these painful thorns that remind us that we are weak and frail and not nearly as self-sufficient as we previously thought. The thorns are blessings in the sense the cast down the proud image of ourself we have in own deluded mind so that we again can be the humble man God exalts. Without true humility all our God-given abilities become an liability as oppose to an asset to the Kingdom (see the Corinthians misuse of tongues).

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