2 Corinthians 12:8-9
For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.…
I. Observe that the text GUARDS US AGAINST AN OVER-ANXIOUS ANTICIPATION OF THE FUTURE.
II. But again, the text OFFERS US GRACE IN PROPORTION TO OUR NEED. This most precious promise is extended to all who are willing to receive it. There are many aspects in which this offer claims our attention.
1. It is universal in its range. There is no case which it does not meet. However varied men's circumstances, there is something here quite adequate to all their variety. One dreads poverty; another fears the temptations of prosperity.
2. And it is judicious in its purport. It is intended not to gratify our wishes, which are often foolish, but to meet the real exigencies of our case. We should like to choose blessings for ourselves, or at least to know what they are to be. Yet we are never so likely to err as when we are surest of ourselves. How often we see men behaving differently in changed conditions of life from their intended conduct!
3. This is an offer, further, very tender in its compassion. It is rich in mercy of the most considerate kind.
4. Then how rich are the blessings which are thus secured! No day, however dreaded, is without its gracious promise to the ear of faith.
III. If, then, these things are true, WE MUST USE GOD'S GRACE IN THE DOING OF OUR DAILY WORK. Only in so far as we are strong in the Lord now, are we at liberty to expect His strength for the future. On the other hand, there is far more in this text to encourage than to reprove. It bids us not be disheartened with the vastness of the soul's salvation. We must not think that all that is implied in that expression can be at once accomplished. The story of the discontented pendulum cannot be too often repeated even to grown-up people. The pendulum began to reflect how often it had swung in the hour, and then, multiplying its strokes by the hours of the day, and these again by the days in the week, and these finally by the weeks in the year, it came to see how very often it would have to move backwards and forwards in one year; and overwhelmed with the thought, it suddenly stopped. It began to swing again, only when reminded that, after all, it was never required to move oftener than once a second, and that it had nothing to do with the future. Theft assurance we all need to lay to heart. It is to our present duty, and to it only, that such a text as this summons us. The Divine plan of strengthening us is by degrees. It forms habits of trustfulness and submission and activity. Put away from you all unreasonable expectations of getting more from God's grace than is sufficient for you, and do not wonder if you get it only as you need it. Were a youth to reckon up the number of mental efforts he must put forth to master any branch of knowledge, would he not despair? Had the Israelites known of all their wanderings, would they have come out of Egypt? God's grace does its work in every Christian from day to day.
(A. MacEwen, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.