Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Key verses: (7b-9a) Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
Reflection: Paul, missionary and leader of the early church, had a “thorn in the flesh.” No one knows exactly what that means. Perhaps Paul dealt with a chronic illness or disability. Some wonder if he dealt with mental illness such as depression. Others wonder if Paul lived with the ongoing pain of an old injury, perhaps the result of a beating or an imprisonment. Maybe the thorn was another person who was a constant source of annoyance or criticism.
Lots of us live with “thorns in the flesh” though we might not think of these as given to us by God to keep us from “being too elated.” Whether God has given our thorns to us or not, we can choose to learn from them. We can choose to learn humility. We can choose to learn the reality of dependence in a culture that exalts false independence. We can choose to be transformed with compassion for others who struggle. We can choose to trust in God. God uses even our weaknesses to transform us to be more like Jesus Christ. God uses the thorns to remind us that we depend only on grace.
I hear stories of disciples who amaze me. People who live with tremendous struggles or who face ongoing disabilities but have found purpose and meaning in life. They pray for others. They write notes and make phone calls to express their care. They sit in silence with friends in waiting rooms and in hospital beds. God uses their weaknesses to make grace known.
Prayer: Use me Lord, use even me. You know my struggles and my pain. You know my limitations and my weaknesses. I depend on you and on your grace. Transform me to be more like Jesus Christ and use me to share his grace in the world. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].