So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Joshua 18:3 (ESV)
I have the following note in my bible “The Christian life is always described in continuing effort… Pilgrimage, war, a race – Pastor Dennis Greenidge” This is so true, as Gods children we need to avoid falling into the trap of procrastination and instead learn from both the attitudes of Judah “to go first” and Joseph “to work and expand”
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. 2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV)
In this ultimate conclusion to Paul’s argument in this letter Paul gives us two accounts which he attributes to God, one is his rapture and vision of heaven, and receiving such revelation that some could not be shared. The other is the thorn in the flesh or messenger from Satan that God allows to help him stay humble. In both cases God remains the ultimate orchestrator and sovereign.
There has been much debate throughout church history regarding the identity of the thorn, with the most likely option being some form of illness but attempts to identify it miss the point of Paul’s intended ambiguity in using this sort of figurative language. Forcing a single meaning to this sort of language misses the point, which is that it remains open so that the lesson can be applied in all circumstances in every age.
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. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
Paul’s main point here is not the identity of the thorn but its origin (from Satan yet given by God), it’s cause (the great revelations) and its purpose (to keep Paul from conceit). The climax is that no matter what we are allowed to go through and the reason behind it, God’s grace will give us the strength we need to endure, because God is glorified when we persevere through difficulty and challenges in humility before him.
This verse embodies Paul’s entire argument, the Christian life is not marked by happy days of no suffering, bliss, wealth and health… No, our lives are marked by endurance and humility in the midst of adversity and persecution to bring Glory to God.
The vagueness around the thorn and the definite promise of sufficient grace (said in the present tense) means we can all take comfort from this promise for our own walk with the Lord today.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:4 (ESV)
When we are afraid we should not ignore our fear but confront it with our faith in God’s word and come to the firm realisation that we can trust in God and his word and that nothing can happen to us as Gods children outside God’s control. see 1 Corinthians 10:13