Tag Archives: thorn in the flesh

The Jonah Syndrome

I’ll never forget a minister who came to work at our church when I was younger. They felt that God had called them to our town and our church. Not long after they had uprooted their family from their hometown and moved to ours, things started to go wrong. Their car broke down, the AC in the house went out, etc. It seemed that for a year nothing went right and everything was against them. They concluded that they missed God and weren’t supposed to be there. They resigned and moved back to where they lived before.

I remember talking to them about it, and decided to label it Jonah Syndrome. They believed if bad things were happening, they must have missed God or disobeyed Him. My response was that bad things happen, and that it could be an attack to try to make them ineffective at what God had called them to do. To this day, I believe they didn’t think that bad things happen to people who are in the will of God. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us who believe that. The truth is that we need to get rid of the Jonah Syndrome.

All of the early disciples, and most of the Early Church, suffered hardships. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead and had disagreements with the leadership of the Church. Bad things happened to him constantly in the New Testament. He even had one nagging problem that he said was a “thorn in his flesh”. He asked God to resolve and remove the problem, but God didn’t. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 12, He replied to Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (AMP).

I like how Psalm 34:19 says, “Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all” (GNT). You and I are going to go through suffering and have our own thorns in the flesh. It doesn’t mean we are not in God’s will, it means that we need to learn to trust His grace. Jonah was running from his calling. That’s why he suffered. If you’re trying to do what God called you to and you’re running into troubles, ask God for His grace to help you endure. It could be that you’re on the edge of a breakthrough and the enemy is trying to stop you. Above all, seek God’s wisdom in the matter and trust His answer.


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Mercy And Grace


As I’m driving somewhere with my preschool son in the car, most of the time he will say, “Dada, I NEED your phone.” I typically respond back, “You don’t NEED IT. You want it.” I wonder if that’s how God sees us with our prayers sometimes. We often cry out in desperation, “God, I NEED this answer to prayer!” The truth is that many of those NEED prayers are truly want prayers. We WANT it very badly and are desperate to get the answer, but the truth is, a lot of those prayers are not really needs. 

I’ve been reflecting on Hebrews 4:16 quite a bit. It says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (NLT)” I’ve quoted this scripture in many of my prayers, but I haven’t really broke it down until recently. I know that if I approach God’s throne of grace in prayer, He hears me. I often assume that because He hears me, He should answer according to the way I’m praying. That line of thinking has led to a lot of disappointment misdirected at God. 

The verse says that at His throne of grace, we will receive mercy. When I hear that, I think of blind Bartimaeus outside of Jericho. He heard that Jesus was passing by and knew that He healed people. Bartimaeus yelled out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! (NLT)” Jesus called him over, had mercy on him and healed him. When we approach God’s throne of grace, we are often crying out for God to have mercy on our request. Sometimes, He calls us over like Bartimaeus and grants us mercy and other times He gives us grace.

The last part of Hebrews 4:16 says that we will find grace to help us when we need it most. In II Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul talks of a thorn in his flesh that he asked God to remove. Instead of giving him mercy by removing it, God replied to him, “My grace is all you need.” God told him He wasn’t going to answer his request for mercy, but instead He would give him the grace to help him when he needed it most. He does the same for us. He gives us grace that is sufficient when He doesn’t answer our petition for mercy.

I don’t know what makes God choose grace over mercy so often. I wish I did. What I do know is that when He chooses grace, it’s enough. He has promised that whatever I face, He will give me grace that is sufficient to endure. He will be strong when I’m weak. He will carry me when I can’t seem to find the strength to move forward. Each time I approach God’s throne of grace, I know that I will either receive mercy to grant my request or I will receive grace to help me through the situation. Either way, I know that God has heard my plea and is giving me just what I need in order for Him to fulfill His purpose.

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