God’s Schoolhouse

“…looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

“Because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!”
2 Corinthians 12:7 (NASB)

“It was good for me to suffer so that I might learn Your law.”
Psalm 119:71

Fifty plus years ago I lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone, or at least it seemed like that. I will always remember one man that I saw many times at the bank and during summer on the street. He looked perfectly normal except for one significant feature. His nose was huge and red as a cherry. I soon learned that he was a masochist! He derived pleasure from suffering pain. He cut his nose to induce pain and that brought him pleasure. People without psychological issues rightly seek to avoid pain or, if it is present, remove it.

When Christians suffer, we pray with them to have the source of the pain taken away. That is an appropriate way to respond to suffering. We need to pray and ask the Lord for relief from the pain we experience. But what if our prayers go unanswered? Then what do we do?

We know that both Jesus and Paul prayed that their trial might end but it did not end for either of them. They both had to go through the valley of suffering. But as we ponder these two cases it is clear that suffering can bring blessing. Also, the Psalmist stated he grew spiritually because of his sorrow. He learned the lesson that suffering brings blessing when the lesson is learned in God’s schoolhouse.

When you are suffering, and the Lord has not answered your prayers for relief, look for the lessons you could learn from this experience. Paul’s lesson from the thorn in his flesh was that the Lord was using the thorn to help keep him from the sin of pride. Our Lord saw the joy that was beyond the horror of the cross and that enduring the cross would bring Him great joy. The Psalmist discovered that his suffering brought him knowledge of the Laws of the Lord he had not learned prior to the onset of his sorrow.

Now that your prayers have not brought you relief from your suffering, begin praying that you will learn the lesson or lessons He is teaching you. The lessons learned in God’s schoolhouse may come with high tuition fees (suffering), but the lessons are worth the price. Today, ask the Lord to speak to you and teach you the lessons you need to learn. You are on the pathway to being conformed to the image of Christ. When the lesson is learned you will be able to say, “Thanks for the thorn.”

More love to Thee, O Christ,
More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee;
This is my earnest plea:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, 
Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath
Whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry
My heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

E. Prentiss

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