2 Corinthians 12:7 “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
Paul tells us that his “thorn” was given to him to keep him humble and save him from spiritual peril. Without it, he would have been exalted above measure and would have lost his spirituality.
We do not know how much of his deep insight into the things of God, and his power in service for his Master, Paul owed to this torturing “thorn.” It seemed to hinder him, and it caused him incessant suffering. But it detained him in the low valley of humility, made him ever conscious of his own weakness and insufficiency, and thus kept him near to Christ whose home is with the humble.
There are few people who have not some “thorn” rankling in their flesh. In one, it is an infirmity of speech and in another an infirmity of sight. Yet in another, it is an infirmity of hearing. Or it may be lameness, a slow but incurable disease, constitutional timidity, or excessive nervousness. Or perhaps, it is a disfiguring bodily deformity or infirmity of temper. It may be in one’s home — a cold, unloving, and uncongenial home — or it may be some moral failure or bitter personal disappointment through untrue friendship or unrequited love.
Who has not his thorn?
We should never forget that in one sense, our thorn is a “messenger of Satan,” who desires by it, to hurt our life, to mar our peace, to spoil the divine beauty in us, and to break our communion with Christ.
On the other hand, however, Christ Himself has a loving design in our thorn. He wants it to:
- be a blessing to us.
- keep us humble, and save us from becoming vain.
- soften our hearts, and make us more gentle.
He would have the uncongenial things in our environment to
- discipline us into heavenly-mindedness.
- give us greater self-control.
- keep our hearts loving and sweet amid harshness and unlovingness.
He would have our pain teach us endurance and patience, and our sorrow and loss teach us faith.
Thus, our thorn may either be a choice blessing to us or it may do us irreparable harm. If we allow it to fret us, and if we chafe, resist, complain, and lose faith and heart, it will spoil our life!
We should accept it in faith, knowing that in its ugly burden, it has a blessing for us. And if we endure it patiently, submissively, unmurmuringly, seeking grace to keep our heart gentle and true amid all the trial, temptation, and suffering, then it will work good for us. And out of its bitterness will come sweet fruit!
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