“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” 2 Corinthians 12:7 (NKJV)
We all have thorns. Every one of us has something that either causes pain or embarrassment, that keeps us from doing our very best, that prohibits us from achieving success. But do those thorns really hold that power, or is it us, just giving up?
Human beings are not perfect. They never were, and never will be, at least on this side of the Jordan River. But with the correct combination of strength and purpose we are overcomers in Christ Jesus. We do not have to give in to the thorns of our lives.
Paul spoke of his thorn in Scripture, yet he did not divulge what it was. It could be a physical ailment or limitation, or it could have been more of a mental nature. But whatever it was, it obviously caused him concern, or he would not have written about it. We may be surprised at his words regarding the matter, because he almost gives it the status of being a good thing, to have a thorn. And in a way, all our thorns could be considered that as well, if we will view them, and sometimes actually use them, in ways that are of a benefit.
Consider Paul’s words. He was aware that he may, through his ministry, have been exalted in some form, by those who heard his messages of the gospel of Jesus. He was a very good, talented speaker, by all accounts. But he did not want to receive any of the glory that was due God. His goal was to always remain humble. So in this passage he was admitting that as a man, he could have possibly been tempted to think more highly of himself than he should.
Could not that same situation happen to us? When we do something for the cause of Christ, whether it be a good work, or perhaps teaching, or preaching, or just talking to someone about Jesus, when it goes well, we may receive praise. Now, a pat on the back or a nice thank you are good things, but if we allow them to go to our head, or if someone makes a big deal out of our humble actions, it is not a stretch to think that we may become puffed up, or more self-confident than we should be. Our self-esteem can easily drown out any good work we do.
We must never seek to steal the glory of God. Jesus always made sure to give the Father all the glory, and all the praise. When we follow His example we show the same glory and praise to Him as well.
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
Thorns are not meant to be a nuisance in our lives. They are, rather, something to overcome. They are the catalysts that push us on to excellence in whatever we do. They are conditions that cause us to achieve despite them. And by so doing, we show others that even with the thorns, and the pain they cause us, we become stronger because Jesus makes all things possible. This was Paul’s hope, that he would never eclipse Christ, but that he would be strengthened by Him.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ ” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Jesus is Our Hope. He is always concerned with those things that concern us, even our thorns. But since He is Our Hope, He also gives us strength for today, tomorrow, and for every day thereafter. And that is where the true power of the thorn lies. When we are weak, His strength shows itself perfect in our lives. Give Him glory!
What thorns do you have in your life, and how did you overcome them? Please leave a comment here or go to www.mystoryofgrace.com and share with us, that we may celebrate the strength of the Lord together!