Thorns… the question is not if we have any, but what are they! Like the apostle Paul, we all have thorns, and just as with him, God’s grace is sufﬁcient for us too!
People like to debate (argue rather) over ‘what’ Paul’s thorn was, but the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:7(b) “There was given to me a thorn in the ﬂesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” So instead of focusing all our thoughts on what his problem was, how about we look at how he dealt with it and what this means for us.
We all have thorns in our lives we wish would go away. However, not all of them will be removed. So what do we do? First, like Paul, we should seek the Lord. Do we pray for His will in our lives? To guide our steps… relationships… ﬁnances… decisions? All to often, we end up wishing our lives away because we think “If I can just get this behind me I can relax… When the kids get out of school, we’ll have more time… When I get this paid off, things will be better,” and so on.
God doesn’t want us focusing on “what life will be like when my problems are gone,” He wants us to focus on today. Psalm 118:24 says “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” So instead of worrying about the thorn, let’s begin to concentrate on His grace.
After Paul asked the Lord three times to remove it, the Lord answered “My grace is sufﬁcient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So the second step is that we need to learn how to live, and work around thorns! Think of a rose bush, its beauty and fragrance. Many of us have them planted in the yard. We tend them, prune them, remove weeds, and fertilize when needed. But what about their thorns? Well, once we learn how to avoid getting pricked, it’s not such a big deal. Maybe we wear gloves, or know that we can’t lean on them, or grab them a certain way.
The same is true in our spiritual lives, thorns will only prick and make you bleed when you lean or fall on them. If you’re going to have roses, you will never be rid of thorns, and if you’re going to live for Christ, you will never be rid of Satan’s torments! But, the encouraging thing is, the power of Christ can rest upon you (v9).
Stop wearing yourself out trying to remove every little discomfort from your life, just rest in the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That is how you ﬁnd peace in the midst of the storm. Peace and comfort, is not the absence of trials, it’s what you ﬁnd going through them. That is where our witness truly shines. That is how the world see’s the power of Christ on us. It’s all about how we deal with the thorns, not can we remove them.
As you spend time in prayer this week, begin to identify what your thorns are. You avoid being pricked, when you know where the thorns are, and then how to handle them! Ask Christ to let His sufﬁcient grace ﬂood your life that you may be a testimony for Him. If we try to deny that there are thorns in our life, we only empower the enemy. We must be honest about our weaknesses, or we will never ﬁnd strength.
“9b Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my inﬁrmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in inﬁrmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Rev. Cathleen N. Catchcart is the pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg. This is the sermon she delivered this past Sunday.