I’ve had quite a few of them invade my privacy, but none were welcome.
Splinters are painful. They puncture my skin and slip beneath my flesh. After an immediate “Ouch,” I investigate. If a small point is protruding, I extract the painful intruder. But if it’s plunged beneath my skin, a needle is required. Since I don’t like needles, these splinters usually remain lodged. After a period of time, however, my body begins rejecting this trespasser and pushing it to the surface while simultaneously encapsulating it in a hard piece of skin. By this time the tenderness has subsided, and I’m able to remove it free of pain.
Paul’s splinter—or thorn, wasn’t as easy to deal with. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9 NLT)
The identity of Paul’s thorn has been a matter of conjecture but isn’t what’s most important. His response is the essential point from which critical lessons appear.
God sometimes leaves the thorn to help me maintain spiritual focus. I’m more likely to stay near him when I move through life’s valleys than if I continually lounge on the mountain top where I’d be tempted to trust my own ingenuity.
God can also leave the thorn to enhance humility. Pride is a deadly sin, but thorns help me recall my human weaknesses.
In addition, God occasionally leaves the thorn to help me empathize with others. Sympathy is feeling sorry for what someone is going through; empathy is entering into their experience with actions.
Perhaps most importantly, God sometimes leaves the thorn so I’ll remember he’s what I need—and all I need, to face any trial I encounter in life’s journey.
Has God refused to remove a thorn from your life? Trust his wisdom and rely on his strength to live with your thorn.
Prayer: Heavenly Master, we trust You to insert—or allow, the proper thorns in our life that will produce spiritually honoring fruit.
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