Don’t Ask God to Remove the Thorn

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9: But he said to me, “My grace is the sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10: That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:7-10

A few days ago, I found myself asking God to remove the thorns from my side- those uncomfortable and inconvenient situations and circumstances. And God brought this scripture to mind.

I started thinking, “How often in our walk with Christ do we ask Him to remove the thorns from our flesh, instead of latching onto His grace?

In the scripture, we have Paul, who prior to his conversion was known as Saul. As Saul, he committed to the persecution of all Christian disciples in Jerusalem. Long story short, God convicts Him, he repents, God changes his name to Paul and he becomes a prophet. Now as Paul, he’s radical for Christ- the man’s responsible for 2/3 of the New Testament! Throughout his ministry, he experiences severe persecution- he’s beaten, he’s incarcerated, he’s rejected; but the message in his heart never dies. He never gives up on fulfilling his mission.

Understanding his past, we can now focus on the scripture for this message. Paul is in Corinth ministering to the Corinthians. And he’s speaking of the great revelations he’s received from God. But the intriguing part is that Paul also speaks of the method used to ensure his humility- …”to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” 

Interesting points: 

1. The word “messenger” is from the Greek word, “angelos”, which means “angels”. We know that Satan has a legion of fallen angels.

2. Some translations use the word “buffet” as opposed to “torment”. The word “buffet” means to “strike blow after blow”. How many of us have experienced what appeared to be blow after blow- in our finances, in our relationships, etc.?

“8: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10: That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Interesting points: 

Have you ever wondered why the scripture emphasized the number of times Paul pleaded for the thorn to be removed? I did, so I studied the biblical symbolism of the number three. Here’s what I found: the number three represents divine completion and perfection. Check out these examples: Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter denied Jesus three times, the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost), the attributes of God (omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent). Three also represents a resurrection– Jesus rose on the third day.

Based on these findings, I believe it indicates the completion of Paul’s test. He had completed his begging and God was ready to answer him- just not with the answer he expected.

“9: But he said to me, “My grace is the sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Interesting point:

1. Grace derives from the Greek word “charis” (Strong’s #: 5485) meaning “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, good will, loving-kindness & favor.”

So God told Paul, “My joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, good will, loving-kindness and favor is sufficient for you.” If that isn’t enough, God goes on to say, “For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Imagine you’re Paul- God didn’t take away the thorn in your flesh, but He’s given you a better a solution. While Paul cursed his weakness, God used it to manifest his power.

“Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10: That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

How does this pertain to me?

I asked earlier, “How often in our walk with Christ do we ask Him to remove the thorns from our flesh, instead of latching onto His grace?

Occasionally, we like Paul, focus on the thorn. We focus on our areas of weakness and our circumstances. And we never realize that in our weakness, God’s grace chokes our thorns. We never realize that in our weakness, God’s power rests on us.

In life there will be thorns, Satan is one big thorn all by himself, but the key is to understand that God’s grace and power trumps the thorn’s discomfort. Wherever you are in your walk with Christ, whatever thorns are poking you in your flesh, understand that God has you covered. Start delighting in your weaknesses, in your hardships, in your persecutions and in your difficulties; because…

When you are weak, then you are truly strong! 

God bless you,

Ciara

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