Reading: 2 Corinthians 12 1-10

We have two rose bushes planted in the landscape around our home. They are stunning and fragrant, I enjoy gazing upon them when they are in full bloom, but I must admit that I dread getting them to that point. Getting them to that beautiful bloom requires working in the midst of thorns and always – ALWAYS involves me getting stuck wishing God had never placed them on there to begin with. BUT He knows better than I, He saw reason to add them, and in them is purpose. Not only do I find them beautiful and fragrant, but plenty of critters do just the same thus the thorn serves as a defense mechanism – and a strong one at that.

2 Corinthians 12 1-10 speaks of a thorn.

In these words we find Paul speaking to the Corinthians telling them of a thorn in his flesh. A thorn that he prayed and asked God to remove three times, but God’s response each time was no, 

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 

An intriguing response if you ask me. Strength in weakness just doesn’t make sense- but we have to keep in mind we are talking about God and often times His actions don’t make sense according to our human pretense. Looking further to find what exactly this thorn was leads a reader to varying responses ranging from poor vision, skin disease, an actual thorn, persecution, or maybe conviction over his past sins against christians. The basis for each belief proves interesting, but they are only speculation, leading one to believe that – maybe just maybe that uncertainty is purposeful and it isn’t for us to know what exactly plagued Paul. Its vague nature allows us as readers nearly 2000 years later the ability to personally connect our own thorns to the one in which he speaks. The connection easy to see, yet the feelings over are not at all. Unlike us, Paul doesn’t waste his time venting to a friend or lamenting his problems existence as we often do with our own. Instead, he sees purpose in it (to keep him from becoming conceited), and he praises God. Incredible isn’t it? Thinking on my own problems I can’t say I have ever felt boastful over their existence…lamenting…yes, plenty -but proud? NO.
Paul’s attitude is thought provoking. His thorn didn’t cause him to stop serving the Lord as often times thorns that we experience do. He didn’t even question the Lord’s response. His thorn did the direct opposite. It drove him deeper in relationship with his Creator causing him to praise and boast all the more proudly of the God he served.

Perplexing when we think of our natural reaction to the same. What would happen if we stopped to consider that the thorns of our life may not be there to curse us as we assume,but maybe they are there like Paul’s or the thorn of a rose positioned there as means to protect and even bless us. A hard thought to consider, but one that is certainly worthwhile. What if the thorn you believe to be an attack of Satan, is actually intended to teach you grace, mercy, understanding, or forgiveness. What if that broken relationship that causes you heartache is really meant to take you to a deeper level in Christ revealing to you the power of restoration. Or, what if that thorn truly serves as protection for you, a barrier to something that will lead you to a path of destruction? Considering these possibilities begins to change our focus to the truth that God IS sovereign. Nothing can come to us without first recieving His approval, we learn that in the story of Job. Understanding that and believing Jeremiah 29:11;

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Allows us to transform our thinking to the same thought pattern as Paul. I encourage you today to consider the problems you experience, those things that feel like a thorn in your flesh – our weakness. Consider Paul’s account and his reaction and that the Lord declared His strength is made perfect in our weakness. While you do this remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11, and know that the God that has plans of hope and future for you is waiting for you to acknowledge Him today. Start your day off right, cast your cares upon Him, take Him at His word. Allow His strength to be made perfect in you…Choose Him.

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