Focal passage: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Some of us undoubtedly remember the folklore stories of Uncle Remus. One of my all-time favorites is the tale about the day “Br’er Fox” caught “Br’er Rabbit.” Br’er Fox wanted to make Br’er Rabbit suffer as much as possible. The sly rabbit was even smarter than the fox so he begged to be eaten or skinned alive but he pleaded, “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch!”
Of course, when Br’er Fox threw Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch, he soon learned that it was in the thorns and thistles that a rabbit was most at home.
While Br’er Rabbit clearly loved the briar patch more than we do, I cannot help but think of the similarities that exist between Br’er Rabbit and the child of God.
We really don’t want to be thrown into the briar patch of life (unlike Br’er Rabbit), but oftentimes we find that it is in the briar patch that we flourish.
The secret of our success in the face of difficulty is not our intellect or our good disposition, but rather the grace of God. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Paul recalled how God had greatly blessed him in Christ. Nevertheless, he says, “in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
There has been endless speculation as to what Paul’s thorn in the flesh might have been, but it was undoubtedly a difficulty he experienced in his life. Paul’s problem kept him from becoming overly confident or independent. His struggle constantly reminded him that he had to rely on God’s grace. Because Paul admitted his weakness and need of God, Christ worked through him in a powerful way.
Therefore, when Paul felt weak in himself, he was strengthened in Christ by grace. No matter what difficulties you experience in life, you will have strength to succeed spiritually if you depend on God and His grace. The truth Christ spoke to Paul can be applied to all believers, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).