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 12:7-10
So many times I ask the Lord, why? Why me? Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I continue to struggle through hardship after hardship, insult after injury with one difficulty in life following the previous? When will it end? Then, at about that point in my little pity party, I chuckle under my breath. Remembering that I have a loving Father in Heaven that supports, nurtures, and develops me, I am able to take a deep breath and move on- ready for the next time it happens!
I was feeling a bit this way yesterday so I spent some time with Jesus this morning getting some much needed counseling. I was amazed, once again, at what I can learn in just a few, focused, quiet minutes. Looking back over my life, it was easy to see that the times I begin to feel beat up or knocked down by life or the world, well, they generally follow on the shirt tails of some significant personal success or accomplishment. It's amazing how just about the time I start think that I am all that, maybe even starting to think, "hey, look at me! Look what I've done!" That's when I am struck down by my thorn.
And as much as I have pleaded and begged the Lord to "save" me from these struggles and hardships that appear, I know he won't. For as long as continue to focus on me, I will carry this thorn forever. Which, I believe, is what Paul is saying in this scripture. We each have one, or maybe multiple, thorns that keep us in check. If it weren't for Paul's thorn, he could have traveled the countryside preaching about himself and all that he has done. But, no. Jesus tells him that His grace is enough, that Jesus' power is at it's highest and best when we are weak.
Weak? Not that kind of weak, the kind in which we are humbled, meek and submissive to the Lord. The further away from our ego and the closer we get to Christ, the more power he has in us. Thus, the reason for the thorn: to remind us that we are not Him, that we are to be humble and to focus on serving Him, not ourselves.
So relish your weaknesses today! For if you have no thorn, then I might suggest you have no relationship with Christ, and that is something that only you can resolve. And, a little hint, it helps to get down on your knees to solve that one.