2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “7 So to keep me from becoming conceited…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I’ve often tried to imagine what “thorn in the flesh” Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians. Perhaps it was anxiety, lustful thoughts, an infuriating co-laborer in the ministry, or maybe a physical ailment. Either way scripture reveals that Paul had this “thorn” or struggle that he wanted to get rid of. Scripture says that he called on God not once, but three times and pleaded with Him to remove this harassment from his life.
Many people, including myself, have had moments of crying out to God and asking him to rescue us from different “thorns” or struggles in our life. Whether it be struggling with a physical disability or having a fear of public speaking; we wish that God would just “fix” us. We see no benefit or any goodness flowing from these areas of our lives.
When trials come our way we just wish them away. Like Paul, we plead with the Lord to take them away and rescue us from these annoying or sometimes, extremely painful trials in our lives. And when he doesn’t heal us immediately we often are left questioning the Lord in our hearts and wondering why He won’t alleviate this hardship for us. Our hearts may begin to wonder, “Doesn’t God care about me enough to remove this?” or perhaps we think that “God isn’t big enough to rescue us from our particular situation”. Either way, if we are honest, in our hearts we decide that we are left to deal with our situation on our own, since it seems that God isn’t going to help us.
It is the popular belief that our Father would never allow us to go through anything that may be even slightly painful. Often times we equate pain with unloving actions. However, we know that sometimes allowing pain can be the most loving thing a parent can do. For instance a spanking or letting a child fall down to teach them that running out of control is not safe.
Even as adults, we think that God’s foremost intention for us is to be 100% comfortable all the time and free of any strife or discipline. Scripture on the other hand, shows us something different. Paul says to his audience that God’s grace, which is His power, is made perfect in weakness. Paul joyfully tells of his weaknesses because in that weakness God’s grace rests on him. Paul had to rely on the Lord and turn his face continually to the Lord through every struggle.
I believe the Lord takes passionate delight when His grace is allowed to rest on His children through their weaknesses and struggles and discipline. God is near to us in the midst of “thorns” and hardships in our lives. God uses what man meant for evil or what Satan intended to harm us with and He turns it and makes it a beautiful encounter with Him where we can experience the grace of God resting on us in the midst of our weaknesses.
Rejoice in your weakness, friends. Receive the power and grace of God in your life.