So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)
A thorn is a very vivid example that comes to this visual screen called my brain. Most of us have seen a thorn on a rose bush. Many of us have carelessly reached to put our fingers around the stem of the rose and closed our flesh on that thorn! Or maybe when I was hiking through the woods, admiring the beautiful flora and fauna, I stepped right into a low thorn bush. My socks and tennis shoes were no match for thorns. A thorn is not a “sticker” that causes painful scratches. A thorn rips flesh and there is bleeding.
Cancer in the body is a thorn. A deep sorrow from loss is a thorn in the heart. When a child or spouse struggles with addiction or depression, that is an aching laceration from a thorn. The struggle month after month to make an income stretch over bills is a thorn. Chronic pain day after day after day is a thorn in the flesh.
“Take it away, LORD, please!” becomes a daily plea for months, years. I have outprayed Paul! The wound from the thorn throbs and I do not see the heavenly tweezers to remove it. I read God’s Word and find, “My grace is sufficient for you, Jody.” What???
Paul is teaching me not about a whiff of grace but a grace that sustains longer and stronger than any thorn. Sustaining grace is intertwined with courage and wisdom. It has strength in a faith that holds me up when I no longer can run my race. I am not promised a life without struggle but in God’s grace I am promised His presence that will pick me up and carry me when I am weak. His grace will always be sufficient for the need. I know what insufficient is like. I have seen a notice that says “insufficient funds.” Is it possible for me to pray to God and find out His answer is insufficient?
If I take a deep breath did I use up all the oxygen so that I am left with insufficient air? When I go to Pensacola Beach and watch the wave crash to the shore, will there be another one after that? Of course there will be. More waves one after another than I can count. And that is the visual for God’s sufficient grace for the thorn that I have. God’s grace is a beautiful word for the power of His strength and protection. If God allows the thorns in this life, then He also provides the grace sufficient to live, and more than just survive.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 (NIV)
And so with this thorn in my hip or my shoulder or my heart, I throw myself down at the Cross and realize the truth: Jesus had a crown of thorns on His head and His side was pierced. Jesus paid the ultimate price that had to be paid so that I am also now a child of God. Whatever else I need will be graciously given in more than sufficient quantities. As my tears fall, I also feel the rain of grace fall on me. God answers my prayer – sufficiently filled with His grace.
Let it Rain written and sung by Lindell Cooley