11-18-2021 Daily Devotional
The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, November 18, 2021 comes to us from John Wesley “Wes” Sexton of South Carolina
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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 12:2-10 NIV
“Strength and Peace”
On Friday, July 28, 2017, my wife Lisa and I were shocked to hear my physician say, “I think you have ALS.” I don’t remember much after those words except for the moment I looked at Lisa’s face and knew that our lives would change forever. Further testing confirmed the diagnosis: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal disease with no known cure. On average, patients survive only 2-5 years after diagnosis. It took weeks for the reality of our unknown future to set in. However, there was one thing I was certain about: God was with me and would continue working through me!
After sharing our news with family, close friends, and our church, we received an outpouring of love through encouraging words, hugs, cards, and visits. In addition to receiving love, it has been my hope to share “a peace that surpasses all understanding” with others (Phil.4:6-7). In line with Paul’s words from today’s reading, I try to give my weaknesses to God so that the Lord can use them. When friends and family tell me that they are praying for me and our family, I simply reply, “Thank You” and add “God loves hearing your prayers!”
Prayer Focus: Persons with ALS
Thought for the Day: God loves me and is present in every situation.
John Sexton’s diagnosis was a huge burden for him and for his family and friends. I truly appreciate his faith and capacity to trust God, especially under those circumstances. I am encouraged by the quote from Paul, “I try to give my weaknesses to God so that the Lord can use them.” God can use even my weaknesses to serve and encourage those whom God sends to me. Perhaps what I lack can offer someone else the opportunity to share their gifts and shine their light into God’s world. Can you think of a time when God used something you perceive as a weakness to empower someone else to shine?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, when we face trials that seem insurmountable, thank you for your love, mercy, and grace that provide us strength, hope, and unexplained peace. Amen. –John Wesley “Wes” Sexton