If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you know I openly share about past struggles and overcoming adversity through Christ’s strength. I’ve wrote about my failures and the reality of how I used to live one hundred percent in the world and not at all in God’s word.
There are times when Satan still torments my thoughts with shame or regret from my past—and it’s in those moments where I have to press into God’s truth, allow the Holy Spirit to remind me of memorized scripture, and spend time in prayer to counteract and push those thoughts away. I want so badly to not only push them away, but to throw them out, entirely…But I think of Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 12:7b and it helps me sort out my ongoing battle, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” -2 Corinthians 12:7b
The Bible isn’t clear on what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was, but the phrase was used in a metaphorical state rather than a literal thorn in his flesh. We know this because he refers to the thorn given to him as ‘a messenger of Satan’.
It could have been a physical, spiritual, or mental ailment that Paul dealt with—whatever it was, he was given this “thorn” to keep him from becoming prideful. Paul was commissioned directly by God to spread the gospel and could’ve easily had an opportunity for bragging rights because of it, but the thorn acted as a reminder to not do so.
This thorn must’ve been a constant nagging or nuisance to him. Three times he prayed for it to be removed, yet God refused. (vs. 8)
God had purpose for the thorn in Paul’s flesh and it’s shown as we read and witness Paul’s strong character, humble mannerism, and zealous heart for missionary work.
The fact that Paul’s thorn in the flesh is never thoroughly described (as to what exactly he was dealing with) gives me hope; it makes it easy to relate and apply this scripture-insight to my own struggles.
Further on in verse 9 God drops this unarguable declaration on Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul doesn’t make any attempt to resist, rather his immediate and confident response in verse 10 is this: “That is why, for Christ sake, I delight in weaknesses, and insults, and hardships, in persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Don’t miss those words. A humble Paul sets a perfect example submitting to God’s will, nevertheless, with a thorn in tote and a messy past behind him—knowing his strength is because of Christ.
I know I’m not alone in my struggles. Those words of understanding between God and Paul are as much for Paul’s encouragement as they are for us. Some of you reading this post and these scripture verses right now are suffering mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally just like I do at times and we need to hold onto the promise of hope held in these verses.
Let’s back up just one more time to what God proclaimed over Paul in verse 9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Whew!! Good stuff.
This means that even in my weakness, in your weakness…God’s mercy and grace remain—regardless of negative circumstances.
At times my husband and I want nothing more than to pack up and move away from these old stomping grounds of ours. A chance at a fresh start where no one knows our past. We live in the very place where we once ran wild…but every attempt we’ve ever made toward moving away has always been shot down.
And in the midst of that I can feel God’s leading over our lives: ‘Right here is where I’ve placed you, and here is where you’ll stay. In this place, at this time, is where I’ll use you…even when you feel weak…I’ll use you for My purpose, through My power and My strength.’
…I’m in awe when I evaluate and take inventory of the ways He indeed has used us—regardless of our vulnerability, weaknesses, or insecurities.
I feel grateful as I teach 4th and 5th graders each Sunday morning at church, honored to help lead youth group over a bunch of crazy jr. high kids, and humbled when I take the opportunity to share God’s word with others…all for His purpose…even if it means I must do it with a thorn in my flesh.
God’s power transcends my weakness every time.
Wednesday night Pastor Trevor talked to our youth kiddos about ‘putting your past behind you and moving into the future with God at the top,’ and I want to leave you with the very words he gave them, “Getting past your past, means giving God your present.” …Goodness, I just love the simple, straightforward truth in that message!❤️
I’m heading to a lake-house cabin this afternoon for a relaxing weekend with some good friends from church, looking forward to it!! Hoping you all have a blessed weekend as well!!