Thorns In The Flesh
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul confesses something extraordinary. He reveals that he has a "thorn in my flesh," that torments him. But then he doesn't reveal the nature of the thorn, and gives no other clues as to what he means by his cryptic confession.
But he does reveal how he begged God to release him from his torment:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
- 2 Corinthians 12:8
So what was Paul's "thorn?" Scholars have debated it for centuries. Some believe that it might have been some kind of physical ailment. Others have argued that it might have been struggles with his vow of celibacy. Probably the most convincing argument is that his eyesight was failing.
I was thinking today about why it was important to me that Paul confessed this. The truth is, despite all of the incredible things that Paul wrote (nearly half of the books in the New Testament), I find that it's one of the most endearing and compelling pieces of information he could have shared.
As I sit here today I think about the "thorns" in my own life--the things that keep me from being the person that I know God dreams for me to be. There are more than a few them. They pierce me, irritate me and bring out the worst in me more often than I'd like. And then almost immediately I find myself begging God to rid me of them.
Then I come back to Paul's words that he heard from God--words that undoubtedly were spoken deep into his very soul: "My grace is sufficient for you," God said, "My power is made perfect in weakness."
Power made perfect in weakness. It doesn't make sense does it? How can my weaknesses, my brokenness, the thorns in my side reveal the power of God?
I think it has something to do with how God always seems to revel in making what is broken whole, restoring what was lost and resurrecting what was left for dead. God loves using us in spite of ourselves to show love, to make peace to offer defiant hope to the world.
Because then the only boast we can make is that even though our weaknesses are a liability for us---they aren't for God.
May you acknowledge your thorns, the weaknesses that you often feel keep you from being the person you long to be. May you turn your thorns over to God and surrender the outcomes to Him. May you be amazed at how God's power is made perfect in spite of all of it.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.