Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
It would seem strange that God should allow physical limitations in the lives of those He touches deeply with His grace. It would that is if it were not for the deep and dark sinful nature of humanity. He places a limitation on those He loves, allowing us something that causes us to return to Him for strength and grace. These weaknesses – such as Jacob’s limp after wrestling with the angel – turn into blessings for they help prevent us from straying.
The goal of the Christian life is not comfort and pleasure so much as it is holiness and usefulness to the Master. We are created in such a way that the only true contentment and happiness, peace and joy we feel are when we have surrender all into His hands. The crucified life is the biblical ideal, the life that is placed in His hands, dead to sin and self, is the life that experiences His resurrection and sees His glory. The biblical imagery of the winepress – the grape pressed until the juice comes out (2 Cor. 1:4) – and the seed – the seed dies to itself so that new life can sprout through it (John 12:24) – these depict the biblical standard of discipleship.
We often come across Christians who are bright and clever, and strong and righteous; in fact, a little too bright, and a little too clever — there seems so much of self in their strength, and their righteousness is severe and critical. They have everything to make them saints, except … crucifixion, which would mold them into a supernatural tenderness and limitless charity for others. But if they are of the real elect, God has a winepress prepared for them, through which they will some day pass, which will turn the metallic hardness of their nature into gentle love, which Christ always brings forth at the last of the feast.
The wine presses of God are many and varied: physical weakness, emotional trauma, personality weakness, betrayals, and even the results of our own wrong-doing. Faithful are the wounds of friendship (Prov. 27:6) and we have no greater friend than our Lord Jesus. If after we have prayed God chooses to allow a sorrow to remain, if He elects to permit weakness to remain with us, it is to prevent us from being proud and conceited – and to encourage us to find our joy and contentment in Him. He knows the capacity of each heart and He knows that He is sufficient for our soul’s need. One of the most meaningful and encouraging pictures of the Old Testament was the image of Jacob, Old Israel, leaning upon his staff, using it as a cane, and worshipping God (Gen. 47:31). His constant limp caused by the disjointing of his hip as he wrestled with God – receiving a blessing in the process – limited the old manipulator and trickster, “heel snatcher”, but also reminded him of God’s sufficiency.
It is a wonderful moment when the child of God ceases to struggle against all of his weaknesses and accepts that there is a hidden blessing there, allowed by the hand of the Almighty. It may be said of many that we have all the ingredients of discipleship, except crucifixion, but until we die to self and live to God the joy and peace, the usefulness and contentment, the power and fruitfulness of God will not be ours to their fullest extent.
Do all you can to remedy your weaknesses. Pray all you can as well. Then leave them in the hands of God, and you will find if He chooses to let them remain that they will serve ultimately for your spiritual benefit.
Lord, forgive us for searching for life in anyway other than in and through You. Fill us with Your Spirit. Amen.
 Miles Stanford, The Green Letters, “Process of Discipleship.”