Humility is not an innate characteristic to humanity. However, it can be developed through admitting one’s own weaknesses or through praising the strengths of another. God has placed me in situations in which I could employ either method to humble myself.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul discusses both ways to learn humility. He states in verse seven, “Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.” What is not widely known is that this verse actually begins with the phrase “especially because of the extraordinary revelations.” Before Paul begins to explain his “thorn in the flesh” that leads him to admit his own weakness, he describes a vision that expresses the greatness of God. I myself have been blessed with humility lessons in the form of a “thorn in the flesh” and a vision that expresses the greatness of God.
The following is a journal entry about an event that occurred approximately a month before my foot pain began.
“August 5th. Four days before school started. I had been walking away, but just a few weeks before, I was closer than ever. But that night changed my life. So, yes, it was a vision from God–not about the future. It was more of an illustration of the plan of salvation, sort o like watching a movie in my head. So here’s what happened: I was confessing sin to God, and it started.
“I ‘saw’ myself; it was like when you’re having a dream and you can’t see yourself, but you know it’s you. Also like the Transfiguration where Peter recognized Moses and Elijah without being introduced. In viewing ‘myself,’ I saw red pain (or possibly blood) mark a ‘no’ sign. Then an X over me appeared in the same way. The next thing I knew, I was being put up on a cross to die. I yelled, ‘No! No!’ (I think I remember saying, ‘Someone help me! Please!’) Then, from the crowd around me, Jesus stepped out. Again, it was like recognizing Him without seeing His face or being introduced. And Jesus said to the people responsible for crucifying me, ‘Let Me take her place!’ Then, those men talked to each other, saying, ‘What has He done wrong?’ ‘Blaspheme. I heard Him claim to be the Son of God.’ (I think I remember hearing ‘Crucify Him!’ from the crowd and group of men.) So I was released off the cross. (I hadn’t been nailed on yet.) As soon as I was released, a group of people nailed Jesus to the cross. I couldn’t handle the pressure of the situation, the fact that an innocent stranger just gave up His life for me, so I ran in the opposite direction, yelling, ‘No! No!’ Then, a group of friends came up to me, saying things like, ‘I heard about what happened to you. Are you okay?’ I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but I started bragging about getting MYSELF off the cross! I didn’t even mention Jesus! All around me, in the place I lived, was complete darkness. Then I turned around and saw Jesus come off the cross by Himself. (I think it was pretty gory.) He came running to me, saying, ‘Emily, I’ve been looking everywhere for you!’ At that point, my friends left with disgusted looks on their faces. Jesus told me, ‘Come on! Climb on My back!’ (I think He was panting from exhaustion and pain.) I replied, ‘But Jesus won’t that hurt you?’ But before I finished, He yelled (but not forcefully), ‘It’s the only way!’ Then He was definitely panting. I hesitated but said, ‘Alright,’ and I got on His back like having a piggy-back ride. Everything changed; all around me was light with no hint of darkness. I saw a road, and at the end of the road was God [the Father]. There is no way to describe how God looked, but the light was brighter and spread out. It was like not being able to point to God because He can’t be contained. The road represents my growth/journey with Christ. And Jesus Christ, my Savior, carried me along the road closer to God. And there the vision ended.
“Now how do I know that this was from God? Well, first of all, while I was ‘watching’ the vision, I was talking to God personally about it. And I remember Him ‘telling’ me to focus. Secondly, it has Scripture references, such as ‘It’s the only way!’ (John 14:6). And lastly, so many points can be taken from the vision that it could only be from God. I know it was not me because my mind could NEVER come up with anything like this! Oh, and another reason to know it was a God-thing: after seeing it, I grew closer to God. And every time I ‘watch’ what my brain remembers from it, I recognize how wonderful God is once again.
“I hope that anyone who reads this will grow closer to God from it.”
So about a month before my pain began, God revealed to me supernaturally His greatness. And the same Holy Spirit that spoke to me in this way lives inside of every person who is a follower of Christ.