I trimmed our rose bushes this morning and even though I wore gardening gloves, the thorns poked and scratched my hands and arms.
So, as I sat down to take a closer look at 2 Corinthians 12, I couldn’t help but think about what it meant for Paul to have some struggle that he referred to as a “thorn in my flesh.” Other translations call it a “painful problem, physical ailment, handicap, or condition.” All we know for certain from Paul’s words is that it was ongoing and humbling.
So that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself.2 Corinthians 12:7b (CSB)
And it was difficult to call it a “messenger of Satan” . . . which has made many of us a little more than curious over the years. With a little research, you and I can quickly learn that countless theories abound but can never be proven because the Scriptures simply don’t say.
I believe the Holy Spirit was very intentional and purposeful in inspiring Paul to omit its specific identity.
Why? So you and I and every person who reads these words can identify with Paul. We can easily imagine it might have been the same “thorn” that torments us.
In our moments of relating to Paul’s problem we receive the same message of love, grace, and truth that he heard when he begged the Lord to take it away:
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:8–10
When the Lord makes us strong in the midst of our weaknesses and problems, people see His grace, mercy, and love in us. They see the power of Christ Jesus at work in us and through us. They see the strength that enables us to do whatever He wills through whatever He allows.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13
A Prayer for Victory Over My Thorn in the Flesh
Father, I believe Your promises and I trust Your Word. I believe Your grace is sufficient to give me strength when life is hard and I feel weak. I believe You are the power I need when the thorn in my flesh feels like more than I can bear. I believe Your promise to give me everything I need when I SEEK You first.
Please forgive me for whining and complaining. Forgive me for giving in to my weakness and using it as an excuse. Forgive me for focusing on myself and my problems. I believe You give us what we need to love and help each other. I believe that You are greater than my circumstances. I believe . . . please forgive me and help me overcome my unbelief. (Mark 9:24) By the power of Your Spirit, please give me the strength I need to live in victory. Give me the courage I need to shine the light of Your love and humbly admit my weakness that everyone I meet might want to experience Your grace and mercy and love as well.
Fill my heart with Your love and my spirit with Your power, my mind with the peace that passes understanding, and my heart with faith and love. I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Today, as you take your personal “thorn in the flesh” to the Lord in prayer, remember . . . His grace is able to give you everything you need. His power works best through a weakness that has been surrendered to Him.
Give Him your thorns . . . physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual trusting that He will give you victory and through you many will see “the power of Christ at work through [you].” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
On today’s note write:
God will give me victory over my “thorn in the flesh”!
May God be with you today and help you surrender your weaknesses to Him that He might give you the power you need to overcome them for His glory.
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