“When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, ‘Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.’ Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the LORD, ‘Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more…’ ” (Judges 1:25-28, NIV).
Have you ever felt like Samson? Have you ever felt as if your strength was gone? Alone? Eyes blinded by many tears? Maybe you’ve even prayed the words “just once more”? One more day. One more hour. Just one more moment of joy. Lord, give me one more chance.
For Samson, the prayer “just once more” was a cry to God to return his strength. Perhaps you remember how the story ends. With outstretched arms Samson pushes over the pillars and collapses the temple, defeating his enemies. But to destroy his adversaries, Samson would have to give his own life. And it was a less-than-glorious death.
Many years following the death of Samson, another man, the Apostle Paul, would experience the loss of his strength. In his writings to the New Testament church at Corinth, Paul speaks of the “thorn in his flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7, NIV). “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 12:8, NIV). Imagine Paul praying, no, pleading with God, “Just once more give me strength.” “Just once more.” “Lord, please Just once more.”
Sometimes we think that God will say “yes” to every petition we bring. But just as God did not save the life of Samson, God doesn’t take away Paul’s thorn. God doesn’t always give us what we ask for, but he always gives us what we need. God enables Paul to overcome his thorn by giving him grace. For Paul, the loss of his strength helps him take the first steps to experiencing God’s strength. Paul hears the words, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Corinthians 12:6, NIV). It’s as if God is saying to Paul, “My child, you will have to deal with this thorn in your flesh, but I promise you that my son, Jesus took the nails in his flesh. And because of his death and resurrection, I can offer you my grace and my strength.
So how about you? Have you ever prayed a “just once more” prayer? Have you ever felt spiritually bankrupt and cried out in desperation to God to help you? To save you?
(To be continued…)