“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” – 11 Cor 12:7 (NIV)
One might like to wonder why the thorn Apostle Paul suffered here. A glimpse in his life quickly reveals that he was no ordinary person in the Lord’s kingdom. It was Paul who rebuked the girl with a demon who kept following him and Barnabas, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And the spirit left her at that very moment” (Acts 16:18). Paul survived shipwrecks and had incredible revelations in his life. If you needed to see a General in the Lord’s army, here was one.
But General as he was he had this thorn in his life which in spite of all his prayers would not go away. While many have speculated what this thorn was as he never went into specifics there is no doubt it was some pain. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (vv 8). It still persisted.
Virtually every follower of Christ suffers some thorn, much like Paul. It could be a physical ailment or a certain limitation in life that keeps one down at a certain level. The thorn in flesh may be constant persecutions in the market place or the loss of something precious and treasured in one’s life. Thorns can be repeated denials to achieve a great desire in spite of all efforts. There is nothing there to smile about a thorn. A thorn sucks.
But if we may look at the life of Paul actually that thorn in our life is for a reason. It is to bring us closer to the Lord, by absolutely depending on Him. Look at it this way: the one without a thorn starts boasting in his greatness and ultimately finds no need for God in his life. But you with the thorn know how much you need God in your life for His grace to sustain and carry you through. As Paul later notes: “ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (vv 9). Much as he hated this thorn, he grew to be thankful for it, having found a reason for it.
So, friend, learn to delight in whatever thorn you may find in your life, like Paul: : “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” ( 11 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, where I find a thorn in my life, as such, may I never lose hope in you, for your grace is sufficient to sustain and draw me closer to you.