My life has been relatively free from trouble and pain. I say relatively because when I compare my issues with many other people, I don’t have much to complain about. One might say I am blessed. Well, from the true meaning of the word, as it is used in the scriptures, often defined as made happy or blissful, I’m not certain that the word applies to me. Though it certainly should, my self esteem gets in the way and causes me trouble. My old self is constantly informing me of what I “deserve.” I suppose you might say I get conceited. We deserve easy passage in this life, right? However, God does not abandon me when I start thinking like this. Before long he brings my feet right back down to earth.
God sometimes uses a most effective means of helping us with conceit. Paul called it a thorn in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:7 is where Paul says, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.” I won’t begin to deal with some of the difficulties of this passage like what his thorn was or who or what the messenger of Satan was. That really doesn’t matter for now. Whatever they were, they were given by God for the purpose of regulating his self-esteem.
In a sermon on the topic of a Christian obtaining favor from God, Thomas Boston points out that sometimes God’s favor is not what we would call a gift. You’ve heard it said “Don’t do me any favors” when someone does something for you or to you that they deem good but appear bad to you. We say that very same thing to God when he meets out to us that which we determine to be one of those frowning providences. Here is how Boston puts it. “It is no small favor to the Christian to have a thorn of uneasiness put under him while he is here to keep him from lying down in a lions den. Every rub that a Christian meets with in his way through the world is a memorandum for him that this is not his rest.” At times God will chasten you by his very obvious works of providence. When you dabble in ways directly contrary to God’s commands, he may smite you harshly. Other times he may simply give you the nagging sensation that something is just not right. Sometimes he may cause you to feel no pleasure in what others find enjoyable. Most commonly God just causes you to take little comfort in the things of this world. All of which are blessings because your joy must come in Him.
Spend some time today applying the Haggai technique. Meditate on how God uses a thorn of uneasiness or lack of ease in your life. Ask God to show you why. Look to Christ who is the author and finisher of your faith to help you identify these lions dens he wants you to avoid and to find where your help comes from. I’m certain you will see his favor towards you.