Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:6-10
Key Verse: “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” V. 7
The computer screen glared at me, cursor blinking on the empty page. The crippling numbness that has plagued me for months was worse than ever that morning. My thoughts, scattered. Writing had become a mammoth effort, as my brain denied the natural flow of ideas into paper. I had a deadline to fulfill and 600 words to find.
“I need you, Father. I cannot write today.”
The thorn in my flesh screamed, paralyzing me. The old enemy, Anxiety, which I thought defeated almost two decades ago, was back to torment me again.
We all have it. The thorn, that is. It may be a weakness or a temptation that plagues us. We go through life experiencing times when the thorn in the flesh is very evident or, like in my case, we may go years without noticing it. Then, one day, when you least expect it, it starts raising its ugly head again.
The thorn in the flesh. A messenger from Satan… Allowed by God.
Paul reminds us that the thorn only exists because God allows it. It has a specific purpose. In Paul’s case, the thorn was allowed “to prevent him from exalting himself.” V.7.
I believe if we are honest, we can relate to Paul. Whether on secular jobs or in some ministry capacity, we may be tempted to think that we are solely responsible for our success or promotion. Or that our ministry is growing. I don’t know about you, but I believe there’s nothing better than a weakness, something that makes us realize how fragile we are, to bring us down from cloud nine and affirm our inadequacy… our absolute dependence on our God.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” V.9
I knelt on the floor and cried out to the Father. I had a couple of hours to finish the article and not one single word on paper. God had to come forth through my weakness, through the pain.
As I sat down to write, my fingers poured out the words. In one hour the article was finished. Later that day, my editor confirmed the miracle I experienced as she wrote: “Great article! I would not change one word.”
I cannot claim it. He’s done it. Through the pain. Again.
There are moments in our walk when the thorn in our flesh may seem to scream louder than the promises God has given us. It is in those moments that we are invited to look up and see that El Shaddai, God Almighty, is purposely working through our weakness to display His omnipotence and faithfulness.
There are days when we may be tempted to grab a hold of the lies preached by the prosperity gospel, which shouts that we can name and claim anything in the Name of Jesus and that it will be done. We may be tempted to name the problem and claim the deliverance. We must remember that the true Gospel says “Thou will be done, not mine.”
There are valleys which are so deep and so long that we may be tempted to think that our work goes unnoticed and that our journey is taking us nowhere. It is on those days that God invites us to close our eyes and take His hand, trusting Him only for the next step on the journey. “One step”, He says. “Follow My lead from grace to grace, from glory to glory.”
When God does not remove troubles from our lives, we must remember that He gives us something much greater than healing, much greater than deliverance. He gives us His grace. Grace that signifies His good will towards us, displayed on the crown of thorns that He bore on that cross for you and me. The Grace that saved us is more than enough to strengthen us in our weakness.
The thorn on the flesh. I face it with a different attitude today than I did twenty years ago. It humbles me to realize that no one is a giant of faith apart from grace. It humbles me as I realize how much I depend on my Savior.
He wishes to be enough for me, thus the thorn.
I don’t like it, but I welcome it. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Verses to Ponder:
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2