“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” 2 Corinthians 12:7
“A thorn…was given to me.” So, was this thorn then a gift from God? I normally view as gifts from God those things in which the abundance of life is found. If something happens to diminish or dilute that abundance, I definitely don’t consider it a gift. At best I consider it to be a distraction – at worst, a danger. But here in Paul’s personal letter to the Christians at Corinth, he completely reverses that which was my understanding. He says that the danger is the gift – the thorn is the abundance.
Paul had been exalted in a singularly special way. He had been blessed by God to see sights, hear sounds and experience that which nobody else ever has. In fact, his entire life had been a great big bouquet of flowers. Thus, God sent a thorn among the flowers for the benefit of his soul.
“But, how can a thorn be a blessing?” you ask. Because there is something special, protective even, about a thorn. It’s certainly not something pleasant to look upon. There’s no sweet fragrance like there is with the petal. Yet the thorn still proves to be a very special gift to my human heart in that it reminds me that I am still human.
It was a startling realization – I had never really stopped to thank my God for the gift of the thorn. I had often thanked Him for the bouquet of flowers, but never for the thorn. I had thanked Him that one day I would receive compensation for carrying my cross, but I had never stopped to consider that my cross is its own current compensation.
The Lord allowed me to learn the triumph of the thorn, the value of suffering, the glory of my cross. He showed me that it was through the path of pain that I have drawn closer to Him. I was allowed to see that it is my tears that have provided my rainbow. He taught me that it was through wrestling with Him until the break of day that I have been strengthened. Then I realized that my thorn was indeed a gift from above. I have celebrated the hour of my sorrow and have marked that monument with the words, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”