A Ladlefull Of Thorns
Posted on November 21, 2018 by America's Keswick in Freedom Fighters
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” — 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)
How many tables around America this Thanksgiving will lift a glass and toast the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that they suffered through during the year? If I were a betting man, I’d say the percentages are very low to none, but since I’m not, I’m still gonna say the percentage is very low to none. Secularland will be too busy with its need to hurry Black Friday along to barely notice the good that has happened let alone dare to mention any kind of bad they lived through. I’m not saying there won’t be an acknowledgement, I’m just saying folks have forgotten what Thanksgiving was originally designed for. Kinda like what has happened to Christmas.
But don’t think I’m any better either, far from it. Being a huge football fan, the day usually starts with getting to the local high school game as soon as possible, only to hurry home for the 12:35 NFL kickoff time, then I slam the turkey plate down and hurry back to T.V. for the 4:35 NFL kickoff and then turn into a couch potato the rest of the night (almost forgot, there is a game on at 8:35 as well). Oh, what a wretched man I am. But this year my wife has flipped the script on me and I’ll be lucky to catch the Eagles game the following Sunday. Not that they’re having a good season either. Anyway…
If you take a look at the 12th chapter of 2nd Corinthians you see something that vexes conventional thinking. The first thing the apostle Paul mentions is a man who was caught up in the third heaven to hear inexpressible words and isn’t allowed to repeat them. He then goes on to say on behalf of that man, he’ll boast about the experience but as for himself, he’ll boast in his weakness. Wha?? Who boasts about their weakness? But check out how he explains this…
“If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message” (2 Cor12:6)
Now, I’m not sure about you but if I had me one of those third heaven experiences, I just might be inclined to be a bit of a braggard about it. However, for Paul he goes on to tell how God kept him in line and he seemed to be thankful about it.
“So, to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:7b-10)
Okay…maybe that works for Paul and here’s a thought on why: he makes two somewhat amazingly disturbing statements in the same sentence. First it seems that He acknowledges that God is the thorn-giver, not Satan, and it was done to keep him from becoming proud. The second thing is kinda more like a question, Satan pierced him with a thorn from God? Doesn’t this put us in a deeper end of the theological pool? Not really, for if you understand the full counsel of God’s Word you need not go no further than Genesis 50:20a when a young man named Joseph made this statement, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
I know it’ll be hard to give thanks for those moments when those thorns have pierced us in more of an embarrassing rather than a noble way. If we can rest that God wants humble and not proud, we’ll take the same pleasure in weakness, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that Paul suffered for Christ. Without those thorns, we would choose something with a weaker strength and totally miss out on experiencing the glory of God’s grace and accept lesser joys in our lives.
This Thanksgiving it is my prayer that we all start seeing that we serve a God that doesn’t let anything go into leftover bowl to just sit in a fridge only to spoil a few days later. On the contrary, our God uses absolutely everything the world around us throws our way so we will rely only on Him and not on ourselves or some secret self-help book that’s destined to leave us empty. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) has been married for 25+ years (Kathy), has a married son (Kevin) and a daughter in college (Karen). He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “A thorn in the flesh is nothing compared to a thorn in the conscience.” — Adrian Rogers
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. — Romans 5:1-2