Exploring the Thorns in Our Lives
What is it that is a source of continual irritation or suffering for you? Is it a person, an illness, a fear, a circumstance—something that you cannot get relief from—that causes you anxiety or pain?
We often refer to those things that are a source of constant irritation, struggles or suffering as “thorns in the flesh.” Most of us know by experience the sharp, lingering pain caused by the punctures or scrapes from thorns. Those massive excrescences on the stems of rose bushes particularly come to mind.
- How can something that produces such fragrant beauty as a rose bush inflict so much pain?
- Could it be for the protection of those precious blooms?
There has to be a purpose for our suffering, regardless of who or what is causing it; for as a rose is a beloved flower, so are we, even more, to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul gives us great insight into the problem of pain in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. If we can try to look through his perspective, we will gain some valuable insight and encouragement for our own situations. Because of Paul’s close and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, subsequent to His dramatic salvation, Paul had some incredible spiritual experiences.
He was given heavenly visions and revelations from the Lord that were wonderful and glorious. These greatly strengthened and encouraged Paul as he endured so much hardship for the sake of Christ. He describes being “caught up into Paradise” and hearing “things that cannot be told, which no man may utter.” These out-of-this-world experiences could have become a great source of pride for Paul, just as special moments of worship and inspiration can become for us.
Paul describes what happened after his strange and wonderful experiences:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me.” “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So, what if those thorns in your life are really meant to protect you and keep you close to Him?
Do you have a “thorn in the flesh?” Then rejoice, because this is your opportunity to glory in the work of Christ in your life to keep you in humble and prayerful dependence on Him. Without our pain—our “thorns in the flesh”—we would probably be depending on ourselves, failing to look up and cling to the One who has all things in His hands and “is causing all things to work together for good for those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
*Thank you to Stephanie Miller for being our guest author today. You can read Stephanie's full biography on our Web Contributors page.