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Content with the Thorns

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   2 Corinthians 12:7-10

“God’s purpose for us is no different from His purpose for Paul. He brings thorns because they weaken us, and it is only when we are weak that we will be able to recognize–and desire–the sort of strength that we can find only in Christ. Thorns break us of our self-sufficiency.  Christ’s power is made perfect, or complete, in the void created by our powerlessness to help ourselves out of a painful place. Because of his thorn, Paul learned the benefit of this great exchange, which enabled him to write, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10). Accepting the thorns that God sees fit to keep in our lives is the only way to find the strength that Paul is talking about. Paul found Christ’s strength working in him to be so powerful, so joy-producing, that he came to see his troubles–and they were many–as friends. Can we say like Paul, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities”?

We can. We can be content with the thorns God allows if we shift our thinking to view them as opportunities. Each difficulty that comes our way, all that weakens us, is a fresh chance to cling to Christ and discover His power, His strength, and all that He is for us in the provision of himself.  There are things about our union with Christ that we just cannot know apart from the thorns that spear our lives. That’s why, when Paul had prayed for relief, Christ replied, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Is the grace of Christ sufficient for you too? You’ll never know if you spend all your energy seeking to pull the thorn out of your flesh. If it’s relief that you want–real relief–the kind that fills you with contentment, stop fighting when God says no. Listen instead to Christ’s words to Paul, because they are His words to you as well.”

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