2 Corinthians 12:7 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.
Years ago, I used to go bramble picking with my brothers, usually during the Fall. I think that you call brambles ‘blackberries’ over here. They look like dark colored raspberries and they grow wild in Scotland. They have a bitter sweet taste to them, but you can make a delicious jelly with them, which our mum used to do when we brought them home.
To get to the biggest and sweetest brambles, you have to be willing to fight your way through some really nasty thorns. In order to pick the brambles off the thorns, you cannot use gloves. Inevitably, my brothers and I would all come home with painful thorns stuck in the palm of our hands. So as well as making jelly, sewing our ripped clothes, mum had to be our nurse by removing the thorns with tweezers. In the end it was worth all of the discomfort, trouble, and pain. The jelly she made was delicious, especially on buttered slices of toast.
Paul writes about a ‘thorn in the flesh’ that he experienced in his life. As a preacher, he could easily have become conceited by the amount of power and esteem he was given by his listeners. But God gave him some sort of impediment, which caused him a great deal of discomfort. He does not mention what this thorn was precisely, but it was enough of a problem for Paul to ask God to remove it. God, however, says “no” to Paul’s prayer and so he has to learn to live with it.
Sometimes as Christians, we think that we’re entitled to live our lives free from worries, stress, or attack. We think that just because we follow Christ then our lives should be free from trouble. The advocates of the heretical prosperity Gospel have caused Christians throughout the world to believe that God is a great genie in the sky that supplies all of our wants and removes all of our burdens. But this is not the case. God gives us the ability to cope with our problems and to adapt our lives accordingly. He never promises to remove them, otherwise saints like Paul would never have had to live with their thorns in the flesh.
If you’re carrying a burden in your heart or mind, and it seems like a thorn in your flesh which is always troubling you, take it to God. He may not remove it from you, but He will give you his strength to enable you to cope.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all have thorns in our sides and troubles in our lives. Sometimes we just want them to go away, so that we can live our lives peace and prosperity. Remind us that we have faith in You to help us through those times when we struggle. Grant us the courage to face our fears and enable to cope with the pressures we experience. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.