“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
A thorn in the flesh.
Doesn’t seem like that big a deal, right? “It’s just a flesh wound.”
But when was the last time you had a splinter in your hand? It could be no thicker than a hair, barely visible to the naked eye, but you know it’s there. If anything brushes it, you jerk your hand back like it’s on fire. That tiny little splinter consumes your mind. You can’t think of anything else until you relieve yourself of the torment.
Of a splinter.
While thorns and splinters are, in the moment, overwhelmingly painful, are they really that big a deal? No one has died from a thorn bush, right? “We lost our friend today, to a deadly splinter.” It seems absurd.
We have to take the same approach when we face our dragons. They may feel huge, painful, and disruptive. Terrifying. We want them dead so we don’t have to deal with them anymore. So we can feel victorious. Regardless of how we feel, the truth is we already are victorious.
Whether we fight thorns or dragons, we fight from victory. Jesus defeated Satan, the red dragon (Revelation 12), and He took our thorns on the cross. We embrace the power of the cross, resurrection and ascension as we battle. And when we feel weak, afraid, rejected, or defeated, Jesus’ strength is sufficient for us. All we have to do is accept it.
Questions to consider
What did you burn in the fire? How have you been tempted to pick it back up?
What dragons have you faced? How can you ride them?
When Paul says he was given a “thorn in the flesh,” what do you picture? What are your thorns that keep penetrating your skin?