A Thorn (1)

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Cor 12:7-10

I want to think (collectively?) about this text for a few days.  This passage has always been difficult for me to comprehend.  I understand it in English.   But might there be something that gets lost in translation?  I know there’s been times when I’ve thought I understood Scripture only to learn later there was so much more.  After all, God’s Word is living and active.

The background for this text is Paul speaking on challenges in life and praising God for His grace.  Although Paul has been able to see things which most people aren’t able (the “third heaven”), Paul says he won’t boast on his own behalf.  It’s all for the glory of God.  In order to remain humble, Paul says he was given a “thorn.”  The thorn was a messenger from Satan.  Scholars have often debated what the particular thorn was – eyesight, lack of funds, discouragement, etc.  But what remains clear is the thorn was used by Satan to deter what God wanted to do through Paul’s life.  It might be beneficial to recall Job and the limits God places on Satan.  You might also consider what Paul writes to the Philippian church (1:29).

Turmoil and trouble are part of a broken world.  There’s no question.  But the issue is how does one respond.  James tells us suffering has the ability to produce spiritual maturity (and perhaps even holiness) (1:2-4).  Paul seemed to have the right idea.  He saw this “thorn” as one that offered opportunity.  How do you see trouble?  Regardless of how monumental your struggles seem to be, remember Christ’s sufferings and be encouraged to see the struggles as opportunities rather than hindrances.  Be blessed!

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7 Responses to “A Thorn (1)”

  1. Diane Chilson Says:

    I think it is easy to focus on our weakness in times of turmoil, we strongly rely on God to help us through, we build close relationship with our Father as we seek to understand his power and grasp how much we need him. This is what grabbed me……..
    ” So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited”.

    When we become conceited, it can become dangerous territory! I believe this because sometimes we stick ourselves out there beyond our relationship with God, maybe seeking praise etc etc. We have a tendency not to seek his guidance as strongly as when we are in turmoil. This gives way to some mighty weak territory for the enemy to attack us while we are off guard. I want to stay in praise of God in all times, giving him the glory he deserves while in times of turmoil or during great blessings. Many times when I have become conceited in my ways, I have been humbled greatly, Even though I don’t deserve to be humbled when I have acted like a fool. God is good!

    • Interesting take Diane. Question: What role does the Church/relationships/community play in what you mention above?

      Thanks for reading. I’m interested in what you have to say about this passage over the next few days. There’s so much here. 🙂

  2. Diane Chilson Says:

    If we as a church becomes conceited then we put up walls. Walls that hinder our opportunities that God gifts us with. Every where we go, we represent God and our Church, we need to share a love like the perfect example Jesus gave us. Question is, can we really love outside our church? Some folks might question trust outside the church,, but who do we really need to put our trust in? If we trust in ourselves more than God we sure can come off arrogant! If we obey God and trust in him, we don’t need to understand what impact we have on people, because we have a loving God, I will surely know, his plan is much greater than anything I can do. We need to be humble and obey and watch Gods awesome work as he may bless us to be his vessel. We can be warm and humble at church but can we be warm and humble to the clerk in Walmart with a bad attitude who may not understand who God is and what he can do in their lives? God gives us opportunity here to be of comfort to that person, how do we want to represent our God and our Church? I want God and my Church to be my foundation, I am a sinner and I need accountability and discernment, I want to share the goodness of God everywhere I go. And if I act conceited, you better tell me! LOL!

  3. I think seeing the struggles as opportunities rather than hindrances come with time. I imagined a real, literal thorn cutting into my flesh: At the very moment that I see blood and feel pain, my first reactions are human… pain, anger, confusion (why me?)…

    Thankfully God remembers that we are dust – and in turn, if we have a relationship with Christ, we too remember God’s promise to be with us through all things. God is so very good, he makes good out of our wounds even when self-inflicted.

    Paul consulted with God about this thorn three times! They had conversation! Paul felt God with him and felt loved anyway and accepted and trusted God’s will on his life…

    God knows the heart of man – am I listening for God’s will in my life? Do I have a relationship so tight with God that he would allow me to see the third heaven? Or like Moses, to see God face to face? Good thought provoking, humbling stuff!

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