We have a tendency to look at our Church leaders and compare ourselves to what we see. We always come up short in these comparisons. We don’t see their imperfections, defects, or areas of weakness. Therefore, we presume they have none. We are painfully aware of our own, however, and Satan encourages us to think of ourselves as “damaged goods.”
As we learn about the Atonement and the repentance process we find hope that, somehow, our shortcomings can be removed by the Savior through the Atonement. We work hard, we pray hard, we do our best, and some of them are removed. Some are not. Again Satan tries to convince us that the reason God does not remove all of our weakness is that we are not worthy, He doesn’t really love us, or He doesn’t really exist.
Do you remember Nephi exclaiming: “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.” (2 Nephi 4:17-19). When it finally actually registered (about the umpteenth time I read it) I remember thinking, “Nephi!? Nephi!? Even Nephi was discouraged by his sins and shortcomings? Wow!” Nephi was a great prophet and leader. He may not have been perfect, but he trusted in the Lord and the Lord helped him carry his load. He will help us, too.
The Apostle Paul was one of the great leaders of the early Church in the years immediately following Christ’s death. His conversion experience, recorded in Acts 9, is generally considered to have taken place within a few years following the Crucifixion. Just over half of the books of the New Testament are attributed to Paul. It is easy for us to read his words and lose sight of the fact that he was a man, just like our Church leaders of today — a good man — but he was not perfect. He tells us in his own words that he had a weakness which He asked God to remove three times, to no avail.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
I will continue to do the footwork the Lord gives me to do. I will continue to try to find new and better ways of handling things, and find new behaviors to replace my unproductive ones. But, like Paul and Nephi, I am grateful for the power of Christ which supplements and compensates for my weakness. I am happy to give the Lord credit for those aspects of my life in which, together, we are strong.
- What is your “thorn in the flesh”?
- What have you done to try to remove it yourself?
- What will you do today to accept the Lord’s help, and His will — to either have your thorn removed or allow Him to demonstrate through you that through His grace His “strength is made perfect in [your] weakness?
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