We have all felt the effect of a thorn in our shoes or socks. It doesn’t matter how healthy we are, how comfortable we are in the rest of our clothing, how well life is going, it is the thorn which demands our attention. Until it is removed we can think about little else.
The apostle Paul felt the sting of a thorn (2 Cor 12:7-10). He describes it as a messenger of Satan sent to afflict him lest he should entertain lofty thoughts of himself. We are not told what this thorn actually was, but clearly it brought a great deal of pain. Paul cried out to God multiple times for it to be removed but it wasn’t going anywhere. He needed to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and the thorn was the perfect tool to accomplish this. God responded “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. In other words, “Paul, the pain will stay but I will uphold you. You will discover My sufficiency in the midst of your weakness”
Whereas we are able to address many challenges in life, some will remain – or at least remain for a period of time. Thorns will appear in all shapes and sizes – thorny people, thorny tasks, thorny providences, thorny health issues, thorny constraints, etc. All else may be well, but such like thorns can consume us. The Word which came to Paul is the same Word which comes to us “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” God will bring thorns along so that we learn to lean upon Him for grace and strength. In doing so He particularly cultivates and nurtures us in the following ways:
• We grow in prayer. Prayer becomes less about the thorn and more about us – our character; our response; our witness; our attitude, our lives before God.
• We mature in patience. Another word for patience is long-suffering; it is the ability to press on and suffer long without yielding to bitterness, anger and self-pity.
• We develop perseverance: The thorn doesn’t overcome us, we overcome it. Though it stings it doesn’t prevent us from being fruitful, faithful, joyful and content.
In this fallen world thorns are a part of the curse and we will have to live with them as we walk with Christ.