2 Corinthians 12:8-9
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
God saw fit not to take away Paul’s thorn, but even that thing he didn’t want in his life became something to rejoice in because it allowed him to experience the grace and strength of Jesus upon his life in a way that he never could have without it. As long as he had this thorn in his life, he needed Christ’s power upon him, and he was able to see the value of that. Because if we had our own strength, we’d have no need for God’s strength. If we didn’t have these weaknesses and infirmities, we’d never be able to experience God’s grace so fully. And if we got to a place where we thought we didn’t need God, would we even turn His way?
God ordains to each of us what He would have us bear. Even the great Apostle Paul, a true leader in the church and a man who accomplished much for the cause of Christ, was not exempt from sorrows and hardships and struggles. But those things God gives to us allow Him to put His strength upon us and show us His grace and power in an up-close-and-personal way. It’s more meaningful that way and also more able to draw us into greater dependence on Him and a closer relationship with Him, which is really where He wants us to be. And sometimes it is those thorns we bear that keep us needing Him.
Life is not about avoiding hurt. That is impossible anyway. And it’s not that we enjoy the hurt or revel in suffering, but it is simply understanding that pain is a part of life and learning how to trust God in it and with it. It’s not necessarily being glad for these things, but thankful that God’s strength and grace are upon us in those difficult times, glad for an opportunity for Him to work and move in our lives, grateful for what we can learn and how these kinds of things can mold us. It’s seeing the good that can come from something we wouldn’t consider to be a good thing.
It is our need for God that can draw us so close to Him. It is painful things and difficult things that keep us reaching for Him. So whatever thorns we may have in our own lives, instead of allowing them to make us bitter and discouraged, instead of bemoaning them and falling into self-pity, let us rise up in spite of them through the power of God working in us. Let us allow those things to drain away our dependence on ourselves and build a solid foundation of faith in God. And let’s allow these infirmities to be reminders that the grace of God is continually upon us and it is always enough.