Thorns are piercing, cutting, and can profoundly wound. They scratch at the surface of whatever or whomever they come in contact. They puncture, injure and draw blood. So how exactly are we to find joy in them?
While studying 2 Corinthians 12 today, I found myself reading Paul’s message about boasting in the Lord, even when burdened by a thorn in the flesh. Oh, how I admire Paul. A man who was so radically changed by his encounter with Christ that he would never again see the world or himself the same. His looking-glass shattered on the road to Damascus. Forever replaced by one glazed with God’s glory. From that moment forward, this man, beaten, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked and facing physical malady, Paul chose joy.
For some reason, stories like Paul’s have never resonated with my heart. I’ve always felt like I was reading a supernatural tale about a man who was not fully human. Today I realize how wrong I have been. Paul was an ordinary man like you and me.
Never before had I comprehended the extravagance of God.
The letters Paul wrote show that he was a broken man. A man who by any other standard would be considered unworthy, irreparably damaged goods. It is through the overwhelming extravagance of God that Paul survived his maladies. And because he recognized the amazing grace of God, Paul would never stop boasting in the good news of our Savior.
Our Creator fills the world with stunning wonders. He paints the sunrises and sunsets with a pallet unmatched by Picasso. He adorns the hillside and the valleys with stunning greenery, florals, waterfalls, and amazing creatures. His power and glory are matchless and mighty; strong and powerful; gentle and graceful.
As I sit back and revel in the marvels and mercies of my Lord, my Father reminds me that in my weakness, He is strong. The handicaps I carry through this life, once considering an overwhelming burden have nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the embodiment of God’s overwhelming grace and mercy.
Reality sets in tonight as I read and reread Paul’s account of his thorn in the flesh that often, the greatest gifts we receive have everything to do with the Giver and nothing to do with the receiver. Sometimes God creates a need so that He can manifest His grace, power, and mercy in its fulfillment. Sometimes that need is created in the life of one of His children because if it weren’t in so close and personal, we just might look right beyond His mercy and grace.