I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people refer to their “thorn in the flesh.” Usually in reference to some kind of habitual sin or personal issue that they can’t seem to get past.
Paul is talking from the same vantage point, an issue that nags at him over and over again – something he can’t quite kick and that he wishes wasn’t there. (2 Cor. 12:6-10)
I feel the same way as Paul, I want the thorns that nag at me torn out. I don’t like the fact that I have things that I struggle to move past. But it occurred to me recently as I was praying and working through a thorn that maybe I should thank God for it.
Well we know that Paul benefited from his thorn, at least as far as the first 3 below, but as I prayed I was convinced that there was more that God was showing me as I dig at the thorns in my life.
Here are a few reasons:
- My thorn brings me on my knees to God. As I ask for help, it creates a humble reliance on Jesus that I might not have otherwise.
- It keeps me grounded in reality. Pride and arrogance are far too easy for many of us to slip into. Maybe not in every area of life but I know I’ve caught myself thinking about how much better I am than others at times- my thorns quickly remind me that I’m not.
- It benefits others. God can use every experience for His glory. When the timing is right, I’m healed and using the experience to help others. Very often he doesn’t wait for total freedom to use our struggles to benefit others, we can “boast in our weaknesses” as Paul describes.
- I get to know myself better. The more time I spend exploring my inner thoughts and motivations, the more I get to know myself. As I bring my questions about myself to God, He shows me more and more about who I am and slowly works the thorn out of me.
- I learn to trust God in His timing. Only God knows what kind of wound will be left behind if it’s ripped out prematurely. So I trust, acknowledging I can’t do it alone and that His timing is best.
- There is probably another thorn. I won’t be perfect any time soon. Assuming that the thorn I hate today is gone at some point, there is bound to be a new layer of healing and freedom ahead, which will require another thorn to be found and removed by the ultimate healer.
My question to you is “What is God teaching you about yourself and how is He preparing you for the freedom He wants for you”?
Try thanking Him for the things you hate so much, because through them we have the opportunity to trust, grow, learn and rely on a perfect God who loves us and has our best interests in mind.
image from dollarphotoclub.com