So when you read the title of this post, what comes to mind? Some, I would guess, know exactly what it refers to, while others may think maybe this is a funny little post about something one of my boys did to the other. Well, there isn't anything funny about "the thorn", there is something quite painful about it, as the name implies, but ultimately there is tremendous joy and reassurance in having one. I don't want to simplify it, because it is really quite complex, I just want to share some of what the Lord revealed to me about a story many Christians are familiar with.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes about "a thorn" that the Lord gave him. The verse reads: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me." I find this verse extremely revealing. I don't know about you, but I think Paul was a pretty inspiring man. As far as Christians go, he has me beat by miles. He was not only chosen by God to do great things, but he received revelations, preached the saving message of Christ, and lived a life dedicated to His service. He penned multiple passages of scripture, the very Word of God, and remains a well known role model to Christians today. Again, I can't speak for you, but that's certainly not me. Yet he says he was "given a thorn". The obvious question is "why?"
Many times when I heard or read this passage, I assumed that Paul's thorn was some physical impaiment that he wanted to be delivered from. But Scripture doesn't actually tell us what the thorn was, and I believe there is good reason for that. But Scripture does tell us Why. Paul received the thorn, to keep him from becoming conceited or proud. Wow. The other thing that's interesting is that Paul says he was given a thorn by God from a "messenger of Satan". So he understands that God allowed Satan to torment Paul with "the thorn". Why? Later in verse 9, after Paul explains that he pleaded with the Lord three times for deliverance, the Lord responded with: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". So because of Paul's thorn, God's power was made perfect.
So, why doesn't the Lord, through Paul, reveal what his "thorn" is? I believe its because if we knew what the thorn was we wouldn't see the application for us. We ALL have a "thorn". I can't speak for you, but this concept is huge to me. I know exactly what my "thorn" is and I am sure as you are reading this you know exactly what yours is. What was revealed to me today is a much greater lesson. My God loves me so much that He gave me a "thorn". My "thorn" reminds me of my weakness. It keeps me humble. It brings to mind that without I am nothing apart from Christ. It "pins" me to my King. But most importantly, it makes His power perfect.
I am actually thankful for my "thorn". The knowledge that my God wants to keep me empty of myself so I can be full of Him, warms my spirit. I don't want to be rid of it. It's presence perfects His power, and with His power, He will do great things.
I know Paul didn't think he was worthy either, that's exactly when we can be used most.
Thank you, Lord, for my "thorn"!