Earlier this week I was talking with a friend who was expressing frustration about battling a recurring illness which made me think of Paul’s recurring “thorn” in his flesh. I did a little digging around and found that there are several theories about what Paul’s “thorn” was. Some say it was a person, others say it was his vision and others think it was a sin that he was fighting. I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter what the issue was. What matters it that even Paul had struggles, and though God would not remove it, He did promise to carry Paul through it, using his weakness to make more room for Christ to dwell in him, and that was good enough for Paul.
In a sermon by John Piper, Piper stated that “God uses Satan to defeat the plans of Satan” and that Satan’s “thorns” should be expected by those who God is perfecting. If you are struggling with a “thorn” in your life, consider that rather than being absent from the situation, God is likely using the circumstance to refine you and to draw you closer to Him. I know, easier said than done, but Paul’s president gives me hope. Meditate on the verses below and see if they don’t give you a boost of hope too.
2 Corinthians 12: 7b-10
Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.