12/05/16 Thorn in the Flesh

READING: 2 Corinthians 10-13

Not many texts in the Bible are as clear about how we win spiritual battles as today’s reading is. The apostle Paul had so many reasons that he could have boasted, including his unique calling, his deep, sacrificial commitment to God, and his supernatural journey into the heavens (2 Cor 12:1-6). No one had worked harder than he had for the sake of the gospel, and he could boast of Christ followers who turned to the Redeemer because of his ministry. 

It’s no wonder the enemy attacked Paul through the accusations of false apostles, and he then infiltrated the church through the false teachings of those who masqueraded as “servants of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:15). Just as he deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, the enemy sought to lead believers astray from their “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3). Paul rightly knew that they could not fight that enemy with “weapons of the world,” though; only in “divine power” could they find victory (2 Cor 10:4). Surely Paul had that power. After all, nobody had been called to God quite like he had. 

Where Paul found his victory, though, was not in his power; it was in his weakness. In fact, God allowed Satan to strike Paul with an incessant “thorn in the flesh” to torment him so the apostle might be humbled and weak (2 Cor 12:7). We don’t know what that thorn was, but it was so painful to Paul that he pleaded with the Lord to remove it. God’s answer was “no,” but it was not just a no. “My grace is sufficient for you,” God said, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). So sweet was the victory Paul experienced in his weakness that he came to delight in his troubles for Christ’s sake. You see, Paul knew that it was in His death that Jesus defeated the enemy — and Paul lived to imitate Christ. Jesus was "crucified in weakness" but resurrected in power (2 Cor 13:4), and Paul wished to live in that same power.  

Just as Jesus (and Paul) followed the Father’s will to His death, we, too, must lay our lives down for God. We overcome Satan not when we are strong, but when we are weak. God grants victory to those who are so weak that He alone gets the glory when victory comes. And, He so loves us that He sometimes allows the enemy to strike us with a thorn to keep us that weak. In God’s unique plan, that thorn then becomes a gift when God alone becomes our warrior.    


  • Change your prayer pattern today. Instead of praying, “God, give me strength,” pray this way: “God, make me weak so you are my strength.” 
  • If you are bearing a thorn, trust God to use it for His glory.       

PRAYER: “God, make me weak. You be my warrior today.”