“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
I don’t know if Paul had any habits but he did have a “reminder” in the form of
Personally, I find it likely that Paul’s affliction was physical, and there is scriptural evidence for at least some theories. After his experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), he was blind for three days (Acts 9:9). When he regained his sight, it may not have been restored completely (Acts 9:17-18a). At the end of his letter to the Galatians, he writes, “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.” (Gal. 6:11 ESV). A man who couldn’t see very well might have large handwriting. In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, he makes another reference to his distinctive handwriting: “This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.” (2 Thes. 3:17b ESV). While I was writing this, my wife, Charlotte, reminded me that exposure to brilliant light (Acts 9:3) can cause cataracts. Then too, the Damascus road experience itself may have been an epileptic seizure, the first of many.
Paul refers to his affliction in the context of
But in the end it doesn’t matter. The important thing is how Paul responded. He prayed that God would take away his affliction three times (2Cor. 12:8). And when God didn’t take it away, Paul accepted his situation. He became convinced that God’s
By his response, Paul turned his affliction into a witness. Problems are a universal part of life. Everyone has them, whether major or minor. My little habit isn’t a life-changing affliction by any stretching of the imagination. It isn’t even a “real” problem. But how I deal with it or other minor things could be as revealing as how I might deal with a truly serious issue. Former congressman, ordained minister, and professional athlete J.C. Watts once remarked that “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.” There’s always someone looking at each one of us. I pray that they might see Christ when they look at me—and at you.
“So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10 ESV.)