“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
“I have thanked thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Thou divine Love, whose human path has been perfected through sufferings, teach me the glory of my cross and the value of my thorn.”
— George Matheson
We like the rose, but tolerate the thorns. But alas, if we want the flower we must by default receive those pesky jabs. It’s part of the whole package. They come together and you can’t separate them (perhaps scientists will engineer a thornless rose someday).
The Apostle Paul engaged his own version repeatedly. On three different occasions he asked the Lord for relief.
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Some conjecture can be made to what this thorn was. A telling word is “infirmities.” It means “feebleness of health; sickness,” (Thayer’s Lexicon, #769). Some have surmised it was a problem with his eyes, and that could well be. He was blinded on “the Damascus Road” for a period of time (?).
Satan has the power to afflict believers, but only under supervision. The verses declare God’s sovereignty over Paul’s thorn. God would work it for His own glory. Satan would be ultimately defeated.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
This must of been an incredible truth for Paul to learn. Perhaps his entire ministry hinged on apprehending what the Lord wanted him to know here. It was a critical lesson for Paul to know. It would enable and sustain him through a very difficult ministry.
Those who are afflicted, mentally or physically, are in prime position to teach us about grace. They’ve experienced the thorns first-hand. And in their most lucid moments can tell us of finding strength in their weakness.
There is much to learn in these couple of verses. There is much to learn from our brothers and sisters.
What is your thorn? What repeatedly drives you to the power and grace of God? Can you see the Lord’s hand in it?