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. 2 Corinthians 12:7
I think most of us are familiar with Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Scholars, ministers and preachers have tried for years to figure our exactly what that thorn was. Most of them conclude that it was some kind of disease or affliction that God refused to heal.
I have come to look at it in a different way. Let me explain: First of all, Paul calls it a thorn. A thorn is a very small thing that causes some discomfort and a reminder that it is there. Thorns are not big and thorns are not deadly. Thorns are usually a minor irritant, but if not dealt with, they can be very painful.
Secondly, I believe the reason Paul calls it a thorn and not give it an actual name was so we would not make it bigger than it was. We cannot identify what the problem was so it could have been whatever he was going through at the time. This thorn was to teach Paul not to be conceited and proud. What we are to focus on in this passage is God’s grace, not the thorn.
Lastly, I believe we all have thorns today. Maybe not the same kind that Paul had and certainly most of us will never suffer as much as he did, but we are all going through something, all the time we are alive. These afflictions and test are always with us and if we recognize them for what they are, we can grow from them and through them. Every test, trial and temptation that we are up against can either grow us to be stronger in our faith walk or weaken us to the point that we are totally ineffective for God’s kingdom.
So what is it with you? What is your “thorn in the flesh?” What test or trial are you currently walking out and hopefully growing through? Is it a financial struggle? Something to do with a family member? Maybe it is an obstacle with your employment or health? The fact is, that each day, we walk out some kind of opposition. Whether it is internal or external, it is still there and if we learn how to let God’s grace be our guide through the crisis, we will be ready for the next step in our walk with Him.
Today I want to encourage you to cast your thorn/concerns irritants and pains over on the Lord. Receive His grace to walk you through the fire whatever it may be. Instead of walking from failure to failure, struggle to struggle, start walking from victory to victory and mountain top to mountain top. Identify your thorn each day and grow your faith to the point that there is no room for the thorns of life to control your world anymore.
Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-21
7 The extraordinary level of the revelations I’ve received is no reason for anyone to exalt me. For this is why a thorn in my flesh was given to me, the Adversary’s messenger sent to harass me, keeping me from becoming arrogant. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. 9 But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. 10 So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power. 11 I have become foolish to boast like this, but you have forced me to do it, when you should have boasted in me instead. For there is nothing I lack compared to these “super-apostles” of yours, even though I am nothing. 12 The things that distinguish a true apostle were performed among you with great perseverance—supernatural signs, startling wonders, and awesome miracles.13 Furthermore, how were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I didn’t burden you financially—forgive me for depriving you! 14 And now here I am, ready to come to you for the third time, and I still refuse to be a burden to you. For what I really want is your hearts, not your money. After all, children should not have to accumulate resources for their parents, but parents do this for their children. 15 And as a spiritual father to you, I will gladly spend all that I have and all that I am for you! If I love you more, will you respond by loving me less? 16 Be that as it may, I haven’t been a burden to you at all, yet you say of me, “He’s a scoundrel and a trickster!” 17 But let me ask you this. Did I somehow cheat or trick you through any of the men I sent your way? 18 I was the one who insisted that Titus and our brother come and help you. Did Titus take advantage of you? Didn’t we all come to you in the same spirit, following in the ways of integrity? 19 I hope that you don’t assume that all this time we have simply been justifying ourselves in your eyes? Beloved ones, we have been speaking to you in the sight of God as those joined to Christ, and everything we do is meant to build you up and make you stronger in your faith. 20 Now I’m afraid that when I come to you I may find you different than I desire you to be, and you may find me different than you would like me to be. I don’t want to find you in disunity, with jealousy and angry outbursts, with selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and turmoil. 21 I’m actually afraid that on my next visit my God will humble me in front of you as I shed tears over those who keep sinning without repenting of their impurity, sexual immorality, and perversion.