The Thorn is Grace?

In the Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul laments the thorn in his side (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). There is a lot of speculation about what, or who, the thorn could be. Even though Paul didn’t like it, this ‘thorn’ kept him grounded! He begged the Lord 3 times to take it away, but God didn’t do it. The Lord just said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  So now he boasts of his weaknesses like they are a gift! These weaknesses help him to have the power of Christ within.shipwreck-atlantic_freepik

I can definitely boast of my weaknesses. I can even list my shortcomings. Can you? We are often quite sure of our failings. Recognizing our strengths is a whole ‘nother story. I am encouraged by the idea that St. Paul, enduring shipwrecks, beatings, prison stays and other challenges, is still willing to be grateful for the thorn. Our thorn may be different with the seasons of our life or major difficulties. They can be ongoing or short-lived. I can relate. I have many allergies, a rapid heartbeat condition and was in a major car accident that left me in pain most of the time. It has improved but over the last 10 years, I had to get out of bed and face the day even if I had tremendous odds to overcome. Luckily, I can get out of bed. I can walk. I can see. I can dance. And, I am grateful for the insight that nearly dying can give you.

I even related the idea of weakness to my extreme level of osteoporosis. To make a spiritual analogy using the ‘spaces’ in my bones, I thought God has given me more space to fill with grace. If I was complete and whole, I would not need God. Can we be grateful that we have opportunities to ‘need’ him? I know that growing up in our American culture has created conflicts for me between wanting to ‘do it all on my own’ and counting on my parents, family or friends. God did not want us to be alone. He actually tells us all the time that he will help us when we need it. He will give us our ‘daily bread’ and give us the Holy Spirit to help us!

I know that I can’t do it alone. Everyone has their suffering and challenges. Your challenges may be greater than mine. How do I get through them? Keep going? Keep smiling? Why would God allow an ‘angel of Satan’ to mess with me? St. Paul says that it’s because otherwise I would think that I am ‘all that.’ I am not that powerful on my own!

So we do well to remember that our weakness are made perfect by Christ. His grace is sufficient, so why are we complaining? Remember the Footprints in the Sand story? Look it up. A man has a dream and questions the Lord. He was faithful and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Many times in his life, this man saw only one set of footprints. He couldn’t believe God would leave his side. Then the realization. When there is only one set of footprints, it is when Christ carries him! His grace will hold you up, too! We just have to keep our eyes open to his grace and the people he sends to walk with us.


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