Tag Archives: thorn in the flesh

A Thorn in My Flesh or the Sin of Selfishness–Letting God Fill My Broken Spirit

I haven’t written in here for over a week. My family was going through some things that made our situation unstable. Now that my husband has a permanent, full-time job, things should be more stable, and I will have more time to concentrate on writing.

I’ve been thinking about sins lately and how they’re talked about in Scripture. Or you could say God has been convicting me. We’re all familiar with the “big” sins mentioned in the Ten Commandments. “Don’t kill; don’t steal; don’t commit adultery; don’t covet anything belonging to your neighbor; don’t have any other gods before me.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, and there are more things stated in this portion of Scripture.

That’s not where I’m going with this though. I’ve been looking at other Scripture from Psalm 51 and 2 Corinthians 12, and God is convicting me of another sin, one that isn’t mentioned, the sin of selfishness. Actually, I’m not sure if this is a sin or a thorn in my flesh like it talks about in 2 Corinthians, but it is something that God has laid on my heart.

First, let me quote the Scripture. Psalm 51:10-12 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

These words have wedged themselves in my heart, into the very edges of my being, Words that represent my innermost desire. Words that can only come true though with the next verse I want to quote.

Psalm 51:17 says, “My sacrifice, O God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

A broken spirit so God can fill it. God has been working on my heart and on my spirit for the last few years. I’ve prayed for this–for God to work on my heart so I can be His hands and feet.

I have strongholds though. We all have strongholds, and I’m starting to think the one I have might be my thorn in the flesh. I’ve spoken of it before. My husband serves in the ┬ámedia ministry of our church. He is back at the board almost every Sunday and every Wednesday night making sure things are running correctly. He even stays back there during Bible class to complete things that usually need to be done. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he has an area of service where he is talented and comfortable. I’m so glad that it makes me feel selfish to make this next statement and makes me feel like I’m sinning by thwarting God’s will for my husband.

But, it’s hard on me having to ask someone if I can sit with them week in and week out especially if they are sitting with their families of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or even more people. It hurts when no one knows who my husband is and when I see other people with their spouses. It hurts when family is spoken of as important (Of course, it’s important.) and my family is scattered throughout the church. God is using my thoughts and my heartache though to break my spirit so He can fill it.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 states this well. “….Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I don’t know a whole lot of people who “delight in weaknesses”. I don’t delight in feeling like I’m alone at church with nowhere to serve or nowhere to sit. I want to. I want Paul’s words to seep into my heart and soul where my faith in God, in Jesus, is at the top of the list of things that matter to me. But, God also said this to Paul. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This is true for all of us. The Lord’s grace is sufficient–It’s sufficient when you get a card at Christmas which details all the ways your family serves and only says one way in which you serve. (I tossed that one.) In case you’re wondering, I do serve in more than one way. His grace is sufficient when you are “ghosted” by people at your former church. (Google Christian ghosting.) His grace is sufficient when you can’t figure out where your place is. It is sufficient all of the time!

I also remember this as I deal with my thorn and my struggle not to be selfish. God loves me–more than my spouse, more than my kids, more than anyone else, and He is the One who gives me the capacity to love others even when I struggle!

Praying for all of us to let God fill our broken spirits today!

Thorn in the Flesh

I have often puzzled over the Scripture which contains this phrase because why would Paul need to have a thorn in his flesh. Here are the first ten verses of 2 Corinthians 12 so the phrase can be placed in its context.

“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows–was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Those are a whole lot of words to unpack, but I think we can boil them down to some simple conclusions. Paul was boasting about something he had heard. Boasting is me-focused and not focused on others like God wants us to be. Sometimes, I think we put superhuman characteristics onto Paul because he did so much to spread the word of Christ. Paul, though, was a regular person just like you and me. He had his faults, and he sinned just like the rest of us. In a way, that is reassuring to me. Paul was able to do awe-inspiring things for Christ, but he was just a regular person.

So, he was given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from becoming conceited. Scripture doesn’t tell us what this “thorn” was. It could have been an illness; it could have been a difficult situation he didn’t know how to handle; it could have been anything. He asked God to take it away three times. But God told him that His power was made perfect in weakness. Paul then said that was the only reason he would boast–he would boast about Christ’s power in him and delight in all the difficulties.

Delight in all the difficulties. Do we do that? Do we use our difficulties to tell others about our amazing Lord and Savior? If we’re being honest, we would have to say no or, at least, I would have to say no. Most of the time, when I encounter a difficulty, I usually pray and try to get rid of it as fast as I can, or I pretend it’s not there so people won’t know what’s wrong. God doesn’t want us to do either of these things. He wants us to hold onto Him during the difficulties. He wants us to pray. He wants us to ask for His peace and comfort. He wants us to show Him to others who may not know Him through our hard times. He wants us to say “me too” when others gain the courage to talk about their difficulties.

Courage–something I don’t have a lot of, but something that is important in this Christian life. I think that is the key to delighting in the difficulties. To ask for courage as the bad times come and to ask God to strengthen my faith daily so I can delight in everything that comes my way, even if it’s something that I wouldn’t choose for myself.

So, that is what I will do. Grateful for a Lord and Savior that has given me the ability to organize and clarify my thoughts about Him through the written word!

God’s blessings on all of you today!