Got Thorns?

CB045242Have you spent much time meditating about Paul’s thorn in the flesh?  I don’t mean what it actually was.  There are lots of educated guesses; but you know, I wonder if it was meant to remain somewhat ambiguous for our sakes.  Because we don’t know concretely what Paul was dealing with, it makes the struggle sort of “one size fits all,” and we can “try on” those surrounding truths (v. 9 for instance) for ourselves more readily.

What is the purpose of a “thorn in the flesh”?  Well, what do thorns do?  They cause pain.  They bring suffering.  In Paul’s case, it seems that whatever his source of suffering was, it brought a sense of frailty and dependence to him. He recognized the need of it (2 Cor 12:6,7a).  He learned to welcome the pain, to “glory “in it (even to “rejoice” in it!), because it accomplished something for him…it brought into clear view the fact that the sufficiency of God’s grace is not only provided for conversion; but it is also needed for daily life.

David said it this way: “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it [is; that] I may know how frail I [am].”  (Psalm 39:4)

Through his trials, Job fleshed out for us the timeless truth:  “God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him.”  These things (His greatness and goodness) are true, whether we have explanations or not.  We trust, because of who He is, not because of what He does or does not do.  “As for God, His way is perfect.”

You see, when we trust Christ as our Savior, we accept by faith that not one word will fail of all His promises toward us.  We place all–everything–into His great hands.  It should not change once we begin to walk with Him.  Every moment, every day, we are to be trusting.  Especially when we are “pressed out of measure” and we have nothing left.

There has been a phrase floating around for awhile now:  “God is good, all the time.”  If you say it, do you mean it?  This is what Job acknowledged.

How this looks today:  You try your best to obey, and to please Him.  You make continual effort to “eschew” (lit. to turn away from or shun) the forces of evil, the external sources of temptation, and the internal, sinful self we all combat every day.  So, if you are called upon to move yet again, if the doctor says, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat,” if you lose a dear one and cannot even say “goodbye,” if there’s much more debt than paycheck, if you daily suffer pain that cannot be remedied…you can lift your tear-stained face to Him.  You can falteringly rise on your feeble legs and extend your hand to Him, and He will firmly take it and pull you into His enfolding, everlasting arms.  When Peter began to sink, the Lord lifted him up immediately.

Again, David wrote,

Whom have I in heaven [but thee]? and [there is] none upon earth [that] I desire beside thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth: [but] God [is] the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Ps. 73:25,26

I think this is the bottom line.  Where is your heart?  Is He enough to satisfy it?

For further study, see Romans 8:17, Philippians 1:29, Philippians 3:8; Philippians 3:102 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim 2:121 Pet 2:20; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 Pet 5:10.

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One thought on “Got Thorns?

  1. I am glad his thorn was left ambiguous. It makes it a lot easier to apply to my own circumstances. Though I’ve heard from people who are *absolutely sure* it was MS, or depression, or singleness, or migraines … etc.

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