2 Corinthians 12:8-9 – Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." (NRSV)
Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering… (KJV)
We have no way of knowing the exact nature of Paul's weakness. It may have been some chronic ailment or physical disability. Some scholars believe it had to do with his vision. Others have said it was epilepsy. It may also have been a continuing temptation, which he had been unable to overcome. He called it his "thorn in the flesh" and "a messenger of Satan to torment me." The point he made was that God had given him the grace to live with it, despite frequent prayers for deliverance from it.
Paul also told the Galatians that one of the gifts of the Spirit is patience. The KJV uses the English term long-suffering to translate the Greek word Paul used. Long-suffering was the way he approached his affliction. He had learned to endure it regardless of how it affected him. God had given him the grace of long-suffering. When we encounter illness, disability or other kinds of trouble, we pray for deliverance just as Paul did. If we have a health crisis, we need to seek whatever medical attention we can find to relieve our condition. We also need to pray, not just for healing, but for wholeness of body, mind and spirit. Sometimes all God may give us is the grace to endure. True wholeness lies in drawing nearer to God, for in life, in death and in life beyond death, God is always with his people.
Prayer: Gracious God, we know that we are not always in control of our lives, but you are. When crises come, help us to have patience to endure whatever happens. Remind us that you have promised never to leave nor forsake those who have turned to you in faith. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.