Thorns may look great on roses, but they don’t feel too good when they’re in your flesh. When the Apostle Paul referred to his thorn in the flesh, he wasn’t talking about a literal thorn, but a problem which hindered him. We don’t know exactly what the problem was, but we do know it was significant enough for Paul to pray about it on three separate occasions.
Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” It is common for pastors and teachers who explain this verse to emphasize Christ’s strength, but today I want to focus on Paul’s weakness.
The apostle had seen some incredible victories over the course of his ministry. Churches had been planted, elders had been ordained, believers were being discipled, and Paul had even been given an exclusive visit to Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-5). He was doing what he loved. But now something hindered him. He wasn’t able to serve the Lord as effectively as he had in the past. In Paul’s weakness, he wasn’t as self-reliant as he was accustomed to, and that bothered him.
But only in Paul’s weakness did God find room to work. His strength triumphed through the apostle’s thorn. God continued to use Paul to spread the gospel of grace throughout much of the known world, but Paul had to labor in God’s strength rather than his own.
God may be using an illness or physical defect in your life so you will realize your need for absolute dependence upon Him. If you will accept your condition as God’s will for you right now, He can do more through you than you ever thought possible. He’ll make a winner of you yet.
It will do us good to be very empty, to be very weak, to be very distrustful of self, and so to go about our Master’s work. — C.H. Spurgeon
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.