When it’s not what you want
Paul isn’t referring to the kind of ‘thorn’ you find on rosebushes, but a sharp, pointed stake that inflicts pain.
In the New King James Version, the word used in place of harass is “buffet”, which means ‘to render blow after blow after blow’.
This makes his next statement all the more amazing: ‘I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in…touch with my limitations…I…begged God to remove it. Three times…then He told me, “My grace is…all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that…I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift…Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer…I just let Christ take over!’ (vv. 7-10 TM).
Paul responded to his thorny situations by doing six things:
- Admitting he needed God’s strength.
- Asking, even begging, for God’s help.
- Accepting the answer when God said, ‘No.’
- Appreciating it as ‘a gift’.
- Acting with confidence and continuing to fulfil his mission.
- Acknowledging that the problem allowed God to work through him.
When the driving force within Paul had been redirected by God, he wrote: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20 NIV). Paul’s will had been taken to the cross and crucified. Now he operated in the will of God and no longer questioned the path or the price. That’s the place God wants to bring you to!
‘a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.’
2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV