Summary: God allows thorns in our lives to refine us, to keep us humble, and to be sure He gets the glory for all we do.
Children. They really are precious, and I really do love them, but the simple truth is, I have a really hard time being around them for any extended period of time. Which for me is anything over about three minutes.
I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s the long running around making loud noise that I just don’t have an affinity for, or maybe it’s just with age, I’ve lost my patience with them. Whichever it may be, I have apologized to God over and over, and asked for forgiveness.
His response? I now live in a neighborhood FULL of children!
So full, that for about ten houses in either direction, Ours is the only one with no children.
This past summer, there was hardly one quiet day in our yard, and walking our dogs wasn’t any quieter, easier or better. Barely a couple of houses down the street and I would have a small, noisy group of children walking ME. So I tried changing the walking time to early in the morning, when the sun is just peeking over the horizon. There I am, walking the dogs early one morning, when I noticed a garage door partially up. And from beneath it, out comes running this little four year old girl named, wanting to walk with our dogs, Bambie and Simba. Whoever said the Lord doesn’t have a sense of humor….
Well, I’m not sure who said it, but at this point, I was feeling AND saying it myself. And thinking that these children were fast becoming a thorn in my side!
All I wanted was a quiet walk!! Lord, give me strength…
You’ve heard it said, maybe even said it yourself, and certainly at some point, you’ve felt it….a thorn in the side. Sometimes we call them pain-in-the-necks. And more likely than not, that statement began with “You are….!”
No sooner than I felt and said it, I thought about a thorn in someone else’s side, or actually, a thorn in his flesh. In 2 Cor 12:7, Paul tells us “There was GIVEN TO ME a thorn in my flesh.” Paul then goes on to say, “The messenger of Satan to buffet me…” But we’ll come back to that in just a minute.
There was given to me a thorn in my flesh.
The thorn in Paul’s side, the thorn in his flesh, it wasn’t of any bush (if it were, it would have been about the size of an elephant’s tusk). Paul’s thorns were the trials, troubles and sufferings of the body and soul. His thorn was weakness and want of strength.
Insults, reproach, hurt and harm. There were necessities and distress. His thorn was persecution and anguish. Going back to 2 Cor. 12:7, ‘and lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should become exalted above measure.” (briefly explain here about Paul’s revelations, and how it would be easy for a man that plugged in with God to become exalted.”
God did not want Paul to exalt himself by the abundance of revelations, so, there was given to him a thorn in the flesh, and that thorn came through the messenger of Satan, and it was all the trials and troubles Paul suffered, but it was only because God permitted it to keep Paul humble (again, talk about the plugged in thing).
Did you catch the most important part of that statement? It was only because God permitted it. That thorn was GIVEN to him. 2 Cor. 12:8-9 – for this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul went repeatedly to God and said, okay, Lord, I’ve had enough – I don’t want this thorn any more! Please, go ahead and take it back. But when God answered him, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness, this was God assuring Paul that that messenger of Satan and that thorn in his flesh was HIS will. He was telling Paul that grace would be given and it would be enough to suffer any and all suffering that thorn could bring.
You see it was with that messenger and by that thorn in Paul’s flesh that God wanted Paul to depend wholly upon HIS power – God’s power.
Going b ack to the second part of 2 Cor. 12:9 – Most gladly therefore would I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me, and vs. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities , in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions and distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong.