A Sufficient Grace
Though we don’t know exactly what it was, the Apostle Paul struggled with what he called his “thorn in the flesh.” It was a persistent, nagging, unrelenting pain. We are never told what it was, so all we can do is speculate.
Whatever it was, he referred to it as “the messenger of Satan sent to buffet me….” While the devil was the source, God’s will for Paul permitted this pain to visit his life, and caused him to cry out to God for it to cease.
But God did not give Paul his request. Instead, He gave Paul an unusual measure of His grace to sustain him. “My grace is sufficient for you…” God said to the great apostle.
Pain is not random in the child of God’s life. Clearly, God had a plan and a reason for this pain to remain with Paul. Paul’s interpretation of it was that it had come to bring him humility.
Some of us today are struggling with a “thorn:” a persistent, painful circumstance in our mind, body, family or circumstance. And the fact that God will not remove it is not an admission that God is weak or our prayers ineffective.
God heard Paul the three times (sometimes I’m confident there were more) that he cried out for mercy. And he received mercy, though not in the way he had asked. Instead of relief, he got strength to endure. Instead of a painless life, he received one that was grace-filled to overflowing.
Instead of the pride that comes with physical wholeness and health, he received humility that made him more like Jesus.
“My strength is made perfect in your weakness…” God told Paul, and He tells us. And with His strength, we can always be content.