A Thorn in the Flesh
Scripture Reading — 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9
The apostle Paul was dedicated to God. But Paul had a “thorn in the flesh”—possibly a disease that bothered him quite a lot. He called it “a messenger of Satan, to torment” him. We don’t know what it was, but somehow it made Paul weaker than he wanted to be.
Thorns prick, scratch, and wound. However, the point of Paul’s example is that because of his thorn in the flesh, God was able to work through him more powerfully.
Although Paul pleaded three times with the Lord to take his thorn away, the Lord responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul notes that he was given his thorn “in order to keep . . . from becoming conceited.” This means Paul knew that if he did not have this thorn, he could have become proud. So Paul is teaching us that his thorn in the flesh was actually a good thing. It was a sign of God’s grace to keep him from becoming a proud leader in the church. And we can surely thank God for that.
This does not mean we should ask God to give us a thorn in the flesh. We can trust that God knows what is best for us. But if God does allow us to have a particular kind of suffering, we can also trust that he can use it to do good. As Paul writes in another place, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Lord and God, work in us and through us, that your power and goodness in our lives may be clear to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.