To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Corinthians 12:7, NIV)
SUCCESS drives our culture. That is not all bad as God created us to experience victories. But the danger of success is that we become self-reliant. We think our intellect, our abilities, our acumen got us where we are today. Paul reminds us today that in the midst of our crowning achievements God will send trials our way to keep us dependent on Him. For Paul, it was a "thorn in the flesh."
Some believe Paul means a thorn "for my flesh." That is, God sends something to burst my spiritual bubble. Testings. Unexpected difficulties. Financial reversals. Whatever it is, it humbles me and reminds me that I am not the ultimate master of my circumstances.
Others understand it as a thorn "in Paul's flesh," that is, something physical such as malaria (common in his day) or a severe eye problem. Spiritual or physical, this thorn kept Paul from having an inflated view of his own importance and kept him dependent on God's daily grace.
What "thorn" is God pricking you with today? Disappointment? Prolonged illness? A rebellious child? In the midst of your struggle, rejoice! "Give thanks in all circumstances." Why? Because God is keeping you dependent on Him. His grace is sufficient for you. Always. Claim it today!
Father, forgive me for those times I think I can manage my own life. I give You permission to do whatever it takes to remind me that my life is in Your hands. In Jesus' name. Amen.
- CHRIS R. BULLARD, Overland Park, Kansas