In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about having a “thorn” in the flesh. He describes it as “a messenger of Satan” sent to harass him, and he say that he begged the Lord to take it from him multiple times (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). I’ve always wondered what that thorn was. Was it a certain temptation? Was it some sort of mental or physical problem?
Regardless, the point is that Paul had a thorn he couldn’t get rid of, and so do each of us. For some, it’s a chronic illness… a physical limitation… an addiction… or insecurity. What all thorns have in common is that they threaten to replace Jesus as Lord in our lives. They try to overwhelm us with their bigness and scare tactics… or in some cases, their appeal.
If that’s you, here’s a few things – a few truths to comfort, strengthen, or convict, regardless of your particular variety of thorn.
#1. Remember How Small You Are
We can all agree that Job was very familiar with affliction. He had so many thorns. In his suffering he was tempted to despair… to doubt… and even to take his own life. What God says when He finally answers Job’s condition is amazing:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job 38:4
He spends the next four chapters reminding Job of how big He is. He works to bring about repentance and the right perspective in Job.
As big as our own affliction and temptation can feel, it’s important to remember that it’s nothing compared to what our Lord endured to save us.
Thorns, literally, are small, but when they are the focal point of our perspective rather than Jesus, they cast a huge shadow. It’s really a comfort to remember that it’s our Lord Who’s big, not our suffering. We’re actually very small – just pieces of His vast and unsearchable will. But we can rest knowing that in His will, He has purposed all things for good, including affliction and weakness.
#2. Remember How Loved You Are.
I don’t know if I can say this enough times to you to really help you believe it, but I’ll most certainly try again because you’re worth it:
God not only loves you… He likes you… and He’s proud of you!
Read that live a million times if you have to. Let it be absorbed throughout your entire body because it’s the truth!
#3. Remember How Covered You Are
Though Paul never divulges the nature of his thorn, he does tell usu the Lord’s answer to it:
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9
That’s incredible. It’s all covered. The Lord’s grace is sufficient in answer to any weakness or hardship we might experience.
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: What’s your thorn? What weakness is God perfecting in you with His grace.
Help me focus on how big you are. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen