Embracing Your Thorn

by The Mad Preacher

thorn-in-fleshTo keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. —Paul  (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV)

Arguably, the Apostle Paul was Christianity’s first theologian. God revealed to him some of the deepest truths recorded in the Bible. In fact, God divulged things to him that simply astounded the other apostles. His teachings were considered so radical that many of the Jewish “believers” joined the opposition of non-believing Jews in their effort to destroy Paul and his ministry

“Revelation carries fire with it.” — Pastor Roy Cantrell, City Gate Church Chattanooga.

I believe this is what Paul meant when he spoke of having a thorn in his flesh. It was a fiery assault that was custom designed for him. So, it wasn’t long before Paul discovered that revelation carries a price. He found that it would cost him something if he really wanted God to open the recesses of His heart to him.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” — Jesus (Matthew 13:44-46 NIV)

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7 NIV)

These “surpassingly great revelations” to which Paul was made privy carried an expensive price tag. He called it “his thorn.” What was Paul’s personal thorn? He clearly showed us what it was in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 11.

“I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” — Paul (Verses 26-29)

Paul wasn’t whining or complaining. He was describing his thorn. Considering the sacrifices the Apostle Paul endured, why would anyone want to embrace such a cruel thorn? And furthermore, is it really worth the cost? The answer to that is simply a matter of mathematics. The more willing you are to give, the more God will be willing to give you. The more willing you are to embrace your God-given thorn, the more willing God will be to release His wisdom and power in your life.

 …my cup overflows. ─ David (Psalm 23:5b NIV)

God earnestly desires to fill your cup with a deeper revelation of His Word and hidden purpose for your life, but He wants to do this for something other than academic reasons. God wants to impart much more than knowledge. First, He wants us to intimately know Him. Next, God wants to infuse us with divine power and authority so that you can successfully do the work of the Kingdom. Ephesians, Chapter 1 explains it this way:

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe… (Verses 17-19a)

 Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.         (Proverbs 23:23)

Paul personally knew the price of surpassingly great revelations. His thorn was very demanding. In spite of that, what was Paul’s response to its demands? He wholly embraced his thorn.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

“Afflictions make the heart more deep, more experimental, more knowing and profound, and so, more able to hold, to contain and beat more.”—John Bunyan

What’s your thorn, my friend? Do you have one yet? Better yet, are you willing to accept a thorn should God offer one? The price of revelation power, wisdom, authority and, ultimately, intimacy with God is indeed costly. However, the dividends are way beyond measure. In this new year, Are you ready for God to open up the portals of Heaven and divulge His plans, His heart and purposes for you, your family…the world? If so, then, be prepared to embrace your thorn.

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