enduring thorns

by Pastor Mark Jordan IMG_0969

“But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

I weeded our flower bed the other day, and somehow ended up with a tiny little thorn in the tip of my thumb. It hurt. And considering how small the thorn was, it hurt a lot. Based on where the thorn was, I could not remove it myself and had to wait on Tiffany to get home from grocery shopping to dig it out. I kept on working, taking special care not to subject myself to any more pain than necessary because of the thorn in my flesh.

A thorn in the flesh. The Apostle Paul wrote about a metaphorical thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:8. We do not know what kind of thorn it was, but we do know it troubled him greatly. As Paul wrote, he pled with God on multiple occasions to remove that thorn, but God simply responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God wanted Paul to remain tender, because of his propensity toward the hardened heart of arrogance. Did God inflict suffering on Paul? No, not at all. What God did, though, was give him the necessary strength to persevere in spite of the affliction, whatever it was, all the while keeping his focus on the saving strength of Jesus.

Maybe there was something else in play, too. Maybe God knew that regardless of the pain in enduring the thorn, removing it would be worse. I was shocked at how painful it was for Tiffany to dig out the thorn in my thumb. It was tiny, and in the thickest part of my flesh, but wow did it smart! Honestly, I am glad I finished weeding the flower bed first, because I don’t think I could have done any more work after removing the skin to get to my thorn. As painful as it was at the time, it was best to wait until after I finished my job so I could rest and heal.

Do you have a thorn in your flesh today, literal or metaphorical? Are you pleading with God to remove it, yet it’s still there? God wants you to experience his strength to persevere, but also keep your faith solely in him. There is a chance — perhaps better than not — that if he removed it, you would slip into thinking that you are able to work solely under your own power. You can’t. So trust God, and rely his strength to help you persevere, and then give you to rest when the time comes.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for the power and sufficiency of your grace. I confess there are times I want you to just remove the obstacles in my life, but I know how easy it is for me to slip into patterns of self-sufficiency. Forgive me for that, and help me to trust you in all ways and all things so I may work for you, and rest in you, when the time is right. I pray this in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.