“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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)
Well, if you’ve made this far into today’s Freedom Fighter, you’ll have noticed that the opening passage of Scripture has cut deeply into my allotted word count. I’m good with that, however, if you’ve noticed my use of the “purgatory” and have said, “Purgatory isn’t in the Bible”, I’m good with that as well. After all, there ain’t no such place, unless you’re using the word as an adjective and not a noun like I’m about to do. So, if you’re one of those theologians who cuts cuts-n-pastes John Calvin’s thoughts (like I’ve done) in “gentle rebuke” to what I’ve just typed out, maybe this isn’t one of those times. Why? Because it might be a sign that you complain. Yes, I went there.
So, I still have my nose in Paul Tripp’s book “Do You Believe” and it’ll be at page 188 where I’ll this statement, “Discontent distorts your vision, causes you to question how God has exercised His powers on your behalf, and tempts you to crave what you should not crave, while rejecting what should cause you to be grateful.” HUH! I close the book and wait for our Plant Engineering office mascot (who I’ll call Patty, ‘cos that’s her name) to call out my name, hand me a work order, which will make me go, under my breath, “Not this again, why won’t they learn how to use the equipment.”
I put on a phony “I love Jesus and so should you” face, walk towards the TORIT dust system control unit, reset the stupid breaker again, plug in the resin-coated airline Again, blow out the dust from the electrical box AGAIN, TIGHTEN THE WIRES IN THE PLUG AGAIN!! OH MY GOD WHY DO YOU HAVE ME IN THIS PLACE AGAIN?! And as I hit the fiberglass coated start button, bend my ear to hear the “wrrrr” that signals a running motor, I continue to entertain my complaint. I try to blame Patty for my circumstance, but that’s everyone’s “go to” in this department. Blaming Satan is just as easy so I ain’t going there. What’s left? I better never go there…but in a way I do.
“Father, why do you have me in such purgatory?” My answer comes pretty quick, “Deal with that discontented heart and we’ll talk.” Ya see, even though I’ve been blessed to do this kinda work, I get sick of the repetition of it and that allows me to justify complaining that I’m too far from heaven and too close to hell. I’ve become like the Nation of Israel in the wilderness, not seeing a Promised Land but remembering the Walmart’s back in Egypt where I can just grab what’s mine and head for the self-check-out. A mindset that says, “I love the God of the Universe but I hate where, what, why, how He uses me in His Creation.” What a wretched man I can be, who can save me from this body of death?
The only place to find that answer is in God’s Word. I’ll find myself in 2 Corinthians, 12, 7-10, and I’ll see how the apostle Paul explains his life, in his admitted weakness as a man, is being compensated by the power of Jesus Christ. I’ll take the extra step and say that it’s the compassion of Christ that displays its strength in me, if I’ll only get outta the way long enough to accept that the circumstances I think I’m stuck in are actually God’s way of using me in front of a people who desperately need that same healing touch I claim I received from Jesus. It’s just that simple.
It’s easy to slip into this self-imposed “purgatory-like” state of mind when we’ve become complacent with God’s grace in our lives. I don’t wanna be standing at the Bema Seat trying to tell Jesus, “I was at the Walmart, wearing your t-shirt, boldly, in the self-check-out line. So, yeah, I was like evangelizing.” Raise your hand if you think I’m hearing, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”? Yeah, so do I. Complaining about the provision God provides all the while you’ve been praying that God supplies your needs is just plain dumb. Like believing there’s an actual place called purgatory and you deserve to live in it. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can e-mail him at email@example.com
Think About This: “The admission of weakness is the doorway to true strength. It is when I quit denying weakness that I begin relying on one of the sweetest gifts of God’s grace, His power at work within me.“ – Paul David Tripp