We all have them. Those nagging thorns in the flesh. They come in different levels of severity, but they do come. Perhaps they are seen in the process of aging. We don’t like to deal with the changes our bodies and minds go through, but like it or not, it is a part of the aging process (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Perhaps they are seen in the physical struggles everyone may face with surgeries and medical procedures. Right now it seems we are controlled by COVID, keeping us from our “normal” activities. But these thorns in the flesh are not limited to physical struggles and pains. They can be seen day to day while trying to scratch out a living. The job market may be challenging, the economy fluctuating, and of course, our current dilemma of political unrest. All of these begin to affect our emotional well-being. Sometimes these “thorns” may be self-inflicted because of decisions we make that are not always centered on God’s will.
Unfortunately, too often we allow these “thorns in the flesh” to dictate our lives for the Lord. We allow these struggles to draw our attention from the promises God has shared with us as His children. Perhaps we have allowed our own thoughts and desires to take first place in our lives, relegating God and His will to second, third, or fourth place. Or maybe, we have allowed these “thorns” to diminish our trust and faith in God.
The apostle Paul dealt with an unknown “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-11). He prayed earnestly to God that the “thorn” be removed from him. We handle those “thorns in the flesh” much the same way. We pray they be removed, so as not to plague our lives. But note the answer God gave to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” And no doubt, the Lord is giving us the same response. But unlike Paul, we may continue to gripe and complain and whine about how things are.
What would happen if we would accept Paul’s response to the problems we face in life? “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Our society deals with “thorns in the flesh” from a very worldly point of view — my way or else! But we have the opportunity each day to shine a light to the Lord, no matter how difficult things may become in our lives. We look beyond the struggles of life and are reminded of the marvelous hope we have of eternal life because of the wonderful grace of God. “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses (thorns in the flesh)…”
Paul Mowrer Monticello church of Christ Monticello, AR