When you’ve got a thorn, Grace is the only cure.
It seems a whole lotta people have gone through some tough things that are leaving them wondering if they have any faith left at all. This is a good thing. The older I get the more I realize how crucial it is to have the right mindset and to examine just where my heart is in my faith walk, especially when hard seasons show up.
Every now and then though, a thorn shows up and no matter how much ‘faith’ you think you have, it puts your heart to the test. The bible doesn’t promise us an easy road exempt from troubles. It does, however, promise us that His Grace is sufficient to see us through them.
“But he 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 Cor 12:9
You see, the apostle Paul was the one talking in the above verse and I think he tapped into something very powerful for every believer if only we will have ears to hear. The context of this well-used quote from the scriptures is about how Paul had been given a thorn in His flesh. One, that no matter how many times he prayed, the Lord would not remove it form him.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given 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.” (vs7-8)
The thorn that just won’t go away
I love that he uses the word “pleaded” because I think it shows the desperation by which he wanted the Lord to remove this thorn from his flesh. Aren’t we all exactly the same way?? When something is trying, bringing us to the end of our rope, exhausting all our patience and goodwill, we just want that thing removed. We want deliverance. We want to be rescued.
The imagery is interesting too, have you ever had a thorn lodged in your flesh??? It’s not pleasant. In fact, it’s downright excruciating until it is taken out! Imagine going to a doctor and instead of removing it, he tells you that it must remain there. Yikes!
Is there a proverbial thorn in your flesh that you have pleaded with God to remove to no avail? I think any believer who has walked some time with God can nod their head with a big yes! If you notice in the above verse, Paul also stated the REASON for the thorn: to keep him from becoming conceited. OUCH.
The thorn has a purpose
Many believers know they are called to do great exploits for the Lord. It’s hard not to become prideful when the King of Kings has your back. But aren’t you grateful that He cares more about the condition of our hearts than he does about the exploits? Accomplishing great things for the kingdom means nothing if your heart is not in the right place.
Pride can be birthed out of anything- we can get prideful because of our positions, God’s provision in our lives, the favor He pours on us and the prayers that He answers, a person can even become prideful in how “humble” they are!
We begin to think we are “special” somehow and we forget where our power truly comes from. And so, a thorn appears. And we wrestled with it, we fight against it, we try to take it out ourselves… and then when we can’t get rid of it, and the pain remains and we’ve exhausted all of our efforts, we turn to God, crying out for Him to do something… and He shows up, faithfully as always, but not in the way we want.
He shows up with Grace.
The Old Testament word describing God’s grace is chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. But it also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation.
In the New Testament, the word for grace is charis and can mean: of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
A thorn unremoved is the perfect recipe for Grace
You see, a thorn unremoved keeps us from becoming conceited because in our weakness, in our inability to remove that thing from ourselves, we must turn to Christ and His Grace to keep us, strengthen us, increase us in our faith despite the pain of the thorn in the flesh. A thorn unremoved then is meant to spur us on to exercise the Christian virtues all the more.
You see, a thorn unremoved keeps us from becoming conceited because in our weakness, in our inability to remove that thing from ourselves, we must turn to Christ and His Grace to keep us, strengthen us, increase us in our faith despite the pain of the thorn in the flesh. A thorn unremoved then, is meant to spur us on to exercise the Christian virtues all the more.
Does your thorn do that?
How many of us can say that a thorn in our flesh motivates us to be even more loving, more kind, more patient, more joyful??? I think most of us can say that we need some work in this area, amen?
So today sister, if you’re in pain from a thorn that hasn’t yet been removed, perhaps it’s time to consider why. Instead of fighting and raging and exhausting yourself over the thorn, maybe it’s time to shift your perspective and allow God’s Grace to come in. It might be that God is simply waiting on you to surrender your inability to Him so that He can show you what His Power can do.
It might be that God is simply waiting on you to surrender your inability to Him so that He can show you what His Power can do.
And like Paul, you will be able to give glory to God and say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”