Because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 2 Corinthians 12:7 NASB
“If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.”
― C.S. Lewis
There are many thoughts on what Paul’s thorn was. I’m too busy working with my thorn to contemplate another’s. My thorn is insecurity. There’s no denying it. Yes, some of it came from childhood experiences. In the third grade, I was a notorious tiny chatter box and captivated with the fellow students and all their experiences and talents. The teacher was not impressed at all! She taped my mouth shut in front of the class with some pretty painful tape, called my parents. Parents agreed with the punishment. No denying this experience and others formed some pretty horrific ideas of who I am. What thorn did the teacher possess?
What does my insecurity do? It allows me to blame, drink too much, take things personally, avoid responsibility (after all, I’m no good at anything) and on and on. But there’s something to be learned from Paul’s statement about who sent me my thorn. It’s a messenger of Satan to torment me. Not my parents. Not my teacher. They were complicit, perhaps. Why? To keep me from exalting myself. Other translations use the words becoming conceited. Paul goes on to exclaim there is Power in weakness. God’s power. Some things take God and community. That takes a boatload of trust. We all have a thorn.
Have I got rid of my insecurity? No. Have I prayed about? Yes. Over and over and over. Have I sought counseling from pastors and secular counselors? Yes. Have I read over and over who I am in Christ? Yes. And more. It’s better. There’s improvement. I take responsibility. Risks are taken but there are symptoms that still plague me and only God’s Power removes them and not instantly.
The wounds from others are there, haunting, painful, sticky. However, we can take these wounds to our Father and let him guide us and heal us. It’s a lifetime of work, endurance and trust. That obnoxious and persistent thorn! Wounds need to be acknowledged. Pain gets our attention. Patience truly is a virtue. Trust is critical. The results amazing!
Thank you for your power. We don’t have to battle our weaknesses alone and in fact, your power is revealed in our weaknesses. Help us to share our weaknesses with those that are struggling and share in the victories too. A famous quote, “We can do what I cannot,” is, thankfully, true.