Paul’s Thorn

I was reading a blog this morning by a pastor who both suffers from mental illness and ministers to other believers who struggle with the reality of their wounds. He shared a great story from a play by Brennan Manning. In the play there is a line spoken by an Angel of God: “Without your wound where would your power be?”

This line spoke to me, as did the author of the blog post. There have been times I have asked God, “Why me? Why have I had to endure what I have endured in my life? Why do I have these wounds that though they often seem to have healed, they have left scars and some residual pain?”

The answer is that without my wounds I would not have the God-given power to minister to and encourage others who have experienced similar circumstances and who are trying to heal the same type of wounds.

I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s thorn. Paul wrote:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 7-10.

I know that many have speculated as to what exactly was the “thorn” that plagued Paul. Some believe it was sickness, others that it was persecution, and others that it was some temptation that he struggled to resist. One can read through all of Paul’s writings trying to pinpoint what it was and to argue for one idea or another. But in the end, I believe that Paul intentionally did not specify. The thorn fell into one of the categories mentioned in 2 Corinthians; it was a weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, or difficulty.

But why would scripture leave this question without a definitive answer? I believe it is so that each of us — as we deal with our own weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, or difficulties — can relate to the Lord’s answer to Paul. Each of us can trust in the promise that Christ’s grace is sufficient for us, and that His power is made perfect in our weakness. When we are wounded by a thorn in our flesh, then we rely on God and He is glorified. Without my wound my power would be in my self, and not in my God. But because of my wound, my power is the power of God through the Holy Spirit living in me.

Are you wounded today? Do you have a thorn in your flesh that God has not taken from you? I know you do, because we all do. None of us is immune from the hardships and difficulties of this fallen world. But in your weakness you, too, can be strong in the power of God. Don’t try to hide your wound from the world. Instead, give it to our Lord and Savior and then in your wound you will find His power.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


3 Responses

  1. I was just studying this today, as I attempt to reconcile my depression with my faith. Thank you Linda for putting it in front me again!

    • Beth, It’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit! I have continued to keep you in my prayers, and it appears God is working on the answer to those prayers without my even realizing it. Peace, Linda

  2. Thank you Linda for encouraging us to press in to Him in the weaknesses that we have. He’s there too and able to do more with it than we can imagine. But I want to imagine and believe! 🙂 love, deb

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