So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 2 Corinthians 12:7
Paul pours out his life for Jesus. Paul suffers for Jesus. Paul counts his esteemed worldly knowledge as garbage. Paul is insecure. Paul is afraid. Paul loves so deeply. Paul is willing to look the fool to bring others to Jesus. He doesn’t care how he appears outside of the audience knowing Jesus sent him and believing the Gospel. Despite his intelligence and impeccable upbringing under the most respected teachers, he wants to be small so God can be even that much bigger. That’s who Paul is.
What does it take to get us there? What does it take for us to forgo all the worldly things we covet and build up and just be stripped down to Jesus in us? Certainly, Paul spent time with Jesus. He is so certain this is the prize; the life worth living for at all costs. He received unspeakable revelations. But for Paul, among other things, he tells us there was this “thorn in his flesh.” One he didn’t want. One he prayed to be taken away...three times.
Do you have a thorn? Have you been begging God to take it from you? Paul shares God’s response to his thorn, “But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I [Paul] will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Sometimes we just flat out need it. Sometimes we need hard things to steer us on our God-ordained paths; to keep us humble; to keep us desperate for Jesus. As counter-cultural as it is, our weakness and reliance on God is what makes us strong.
We all have thorns. Some are meant to be removed. Some not. But all are meant to be used by God. Healing may be part of the plan. But if God says, “nope...this one stays. I’m using it.” We say, “your will be done.” And then we watch God do His thing!
Questions: What “thorn” are you living with? Have you asked God to take it from you? What might its purpose be?