2 Corinthians 12:7
And 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.
We all have thorns, big and small, in our lives, but a thorn in the flesh doesn’t have to be a thorn in the spirit. In fact, it may foster a closer relationship with God as we learn to depend on Him more and trust His providence. So we must be careful not to allow these thorns to drag us down, to keep us from serving God, to hinder our relationship with Him, to fall into self-pity, or to lose our faith and trust in the one who holds us up. These thorns may keep us humble and remind us that God is ultimately in control of our lives, because sometimes these things are part of His purpose for us.
We may desire, like Paul, for our particular thorn to be removed. And sometimes it is God’s will to remove it. But sometimes it is His will for us to bear up under it, trust Him, and go on serving Him despite the thorn. It is then that it can be used to glorify God, to show others the grace of God, and to deepen our relationship with the Lord. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to fall into despair because of infirmities, but rather strive all the more to serve the Lord and be faithful to Him, knowing that He is aware of every affliction.
Paul didn’t let his thorn stop him from continuing his ministry. It may have made things more challenging, but it also never lessened his love for the Lord and the people he ministered to. It never lessened his desire to serve God and reach more people with the Gospel. It was never an excuse or a reason for him to give up and quit or not continue on in the work God had given him to do. Sometimes it is all too easy to let troublesome things that come into our lives keep us from the work God wants us to accomplish. It would sometimes be so easy to give up just because of a hardship that arises, but that is not what God would have us do.
Let’s use Paul’s example to benefit us in our lives. When we are faced with a thorn in the flesh, we can ask God to remove it. It would not be wrong to do so. But we must be willing, like Paul, to accept it when God says no. God will give us the grace to continue on, so let’s keep a good attitude and a positive outlook in the midst of thorns and refuse to allow thorns in the flesh to become thorns in our spirits.