I have always been a fairly strong guy. My best friend Robb can attest to that and if you do see him make sure to ask him about the time I squatted the back end of a truck off a tree stump by putting the bumper on my back. Great story with a great ending.
However, there were times then and times now that I feel like the weakest person on the planet. Feelings of doubt, inadequacy, and wrestling with an unsettled spirit sometimes make me wonder if I can pick up a pencil let alone a weight lifting bar. There are times that I ask God, “Why on earth do you think I can do what you’ve called me to do?” and it sometimes sticks with me like a thorn in my weak flesh.
But as we learned last time this feeling of being a weakling usually means God has you right where He wants you. Read again the words of Paul.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” - 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Paul was the weakest weakling in the Bible and not because I say so, but because He says so. Yet, we see that Paul did some of the most amazing things despite his thorn filled weakness because God leaned His unfailing strength into His life and the rest is history.
In the lines of this passage, I see 3 things that you and I can do as weaklings to use the thorns in our life to God’s glory.
1. Identify the Thorn?
I believe before we can really start moving forward we have to know where we are. Paul takes time to first identify what the thorn in his side is and it wasn’t an easy thorn to be sure. Bible scholars debate on what the thorn was he was dealing with but all of them agree that it was painful, constant, and long lasting. However there is no doubt Paul knew what it was.
Before we do anything we need to start by searching our souls to identify what the root of our weakness is and name it. As we will see, this shouldn’t cause us shame because who we are is not defined by what we have. Start out by identifying your thorn so that you can laser lock your focus on dealing with it.
2. Give The Thorn To God?
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9a
We see that the first thing Paul did when tackling his thorn was to present it to God through prayer. Once you identify what you are battling you would be wise to pray for God’s strength, wisdom, patience, and relief from what you are going through. Even when we don’t the answer we were hoping for.
God’s answer to Paul and to you and I is that His grace is bigger than our thorn. Grace is only able to be given to us by God through Jesus. We can’t do anything, but accept it. In order to accept grace we must give up our pursuit that we can save ourself. To the world this looks like weakness, but as we’ve said that is exactly where we need to be. After all, if you can’t fix it you must not be strong enough or smart enough to figure it out.
Don’t believe that lie.
Because in that moment of weakness and surrender we receive God’s strength which allows us to overcome whatever we may be up against. Maybe not on this side of eternity, but without a doubt on the other side.
3. Use The Thorn To God’s Glory?
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9b – 10
The bottom line that we look at is this. What will your thorn do to you?
Will it drive you to be defined by it and let it control who you are and what you do?
Will you decide to let this thorn be yet another example of how God can use ANYTHING for His glory. Will you boast in your weakness because you know God is up to something through it?
Being defeated is the easy road to take and it’s paved smooth as glass with good lighting, markings, and road signs. You won’t miss the exit to give up. But when you decide to be ok being a weakling, God can transform you into what you were meant to be from the very beginning. Thorns and all.
I love what Warren Wiersbe says in his commentary of this passage. He says, “God does no remove the affliction, but He gives us His grace so that the affliction works for us and not against us.”
That’s good stuff. Let God use your thorns, your afflictions, your shortcomings for you not against you. That’s when the true weakling comes out and when God get’s to work in and through you life.
So just remember:
- Identify the Thorn
- Pray For the Thorn
- Use The Thorn For God’s Glory