You know Paul from the Bible? If you do know who that is then, chances are, you know at least two things about him. 1) He used to be known as “Saul” in his former career as a Christian-killer, and 2) he boasted about his weaknesses. (For those of you who don’t know Paul, I realize this description really makes him sound like a winner of a guy. Check out this post & this other post for more background on point #1 and we’ll be diving into point #2 here.)
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul reveals an interesting bit of private information. He has some kind of personal challenge – he calls it a “thorn in his flesh” – that he wrestles with. There is much debate about what exactly his ailment was. I’m not going to get into that. What I do want to get into is that this “thorn” was pretty legit. Paul mentions that he pleaded with God three times to remove it (12:8) but God didn’t.
Now this is where it gets even more interesting. As I referenced at the start of this post, he doesn’t write about this thorn to gain sympathy. He shares it so that he can brag about it!
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 NIV
When I read that, I thought to myself, “I hear you, Paul. I’ve definitely got some challenges in my life that I could call ‘messengers of Satan.‘ But I try to keep that information pretty private.“
Paul told the Corinthians that he boasted gladly about his weakness so that Christ’s power rested on him, or, so that people could see Christ working through Paul. What if I were to apply what God is saying about Paul’s thorn to my own personal thorns? How might that show more people what Christ is doing in and through me? What would that look like?
- Maybe it would look like me thanking God for my weaknesses because they keep me from thinking I don’t need him.
- Maybe it would look like me talking about my challenges more often because it shows how big my God is.
- Maybe it would look like me trusting that my mess isn’t ever going to be too much for him.
What about you? What is your thorn? Have you ever considered the incredible things God has done in and through you because of that thorn? Do it. Today. Sit down and pray, journal and daydream about that annoying weakness you’ve been cursing for however long. Ask God to reveal to you what great things he’s done through that weakness.
Then tell me!!! I want to know so that I can thank God with you!!!! Comment below or email me privately at Emily@messyworship.com.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I’ve spent a lot of my life being self conscious about my thorns. I want to change this way of thinking and instead praise you for my weakness. Forgive me for doubting the depth of your love for me again. Thank you for giving me this reminder that we’re in this together. Amen.