2 Corinthians 12:7-9a – To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 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." (NIV)
Last year, friends of ours who grow roses went on a bus tour and left their car at our place. They arrived with a five-gallon bucket filled with the most gorgeous roses — about 150 of them. All of their bushes had been cut in preparation for their trip.
I was overwhelmed with my good fortune and began making arrangements to fill my house with the colourful and fragrant flowers. Soon, my fingers were bleeding from the pricks of the thorns on the roses. No matter how carefully I tried to handle them, I couldn't avoid the snags. "Why are flowers as beautiful as these roses filled with thorns?" I thought.
The Apostle Paul was familiar with the pricks of the thorns against the flesh. He never identified his thorn; he just left us guessing.
Many biblical scholars believe Paul was referring to a spiritual hindrance of some kind. Some think it was a physical infirmity, while others think it was a moral temptation. Whatever it was, it was never removed. He says he asked God three times to remove it. God replied, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Each of us has our own particular thorn in the flesh. It is usually something in our lives which the Lord uses to build us up spiritually, to produce humble dependence on God, and to teach us the power of His all-sufficient grace.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the thorns in our lives used by You to lead us to Your all-sufficient grace. Through our thorns, You make us weak that we may become strong and know Your grace is all-sufficient for us. Amen.
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