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The Rev. Alan Stibbs: “Learning to delight in physical limitations” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

September 20, 2018

From The Australian Church Record, here is a meditation on Exodus 15:23-36 by the Rev. Alan Stibbs, first published in 1960, and titled Learning to delight in physical limitations.  This is an excellent reflection on our attitude regarding our physical limitations, using the Apostle Paul and his “thorn in the flesh” as our example.  (And one thing for certain: as we age, we will all develop some form of “thorn in the flesh.”) Rev. Stibbs makes this point, among others: God’s answer was not removal of the trouble but grace sufficient to prevail over it.:

‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ This is important because indicative of a general principle of God’s working. His chosen method to help the needy, who cry to him for relief, is often not that of eradication but counteraction. He does not remove the trouble; he provides the enabling grace to make possible a life of triumph in the presence of the trouble. This is well illustrated by John Bunyan’s picture of the fire on which the adversary poured water to put it out, and the Lord poured oil to keep it on.

Rev. Stibbs goes on to make two other main points:

  • This experience of personal weakness and sustaining grace was good for his spirit, to save him from pride and undue exaltation.
  • This condition of personal weakness was best for the perfection or full manifestation in him of God’s strength.

If you wrestle with such matters, I commend Rev. Stibbs’ meditation to you.

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