“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.
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“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel” ( Zechariah 4:10).
The public life of King David is well known. However, there is an early aspect of his life quite hidden though we can get glimpse of it. The first time we get to know David he is a stay home kid while his big brothers are on to bigger stuff, like fighting with King Saul. “Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem” ( I Samuel 27:13-14).
Left home alone perhaps it was a time for David to bond with the old man Jesse. Maybe he sometimes felt idle and ignored. But there was something maturing in his life for the life ahead. For in the meantime as he would later point to King Saul once an opportunity availed itself, God was ironing out his CV. When he offered to take on Goliath and Saul hesitated, he quickly shot back: “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (vv 35-37).
That’s the point. What had apparent been idle moments God was preparing David for the battles ahead? He would not only emerge out of the shadow as a great warrior but also a shepherd of his people ever relying on God.
Equally so, for all of us, there are moments that might appear idle and we feel frustrated as we see the days go by. Yet, in His gentle ways, God is preparing us for great days ahead.
Prayer today: Lord Father God, maker of heaven and earth, for those periods in life of apparent inactivity and maybe trials, help me appreciate them as the maturing me, for in due time and season all will bear fruit, this I pray in Jesus’ name!