“I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ “
Why does God’s power work best in weakness? Because the weak accept His help.
Why allow a tormenting burden on Paul, a servant who was so ready to obey God, when it holds him back from what he could do? Because holding us back from what would feed our pride is not holding us back at all.
I tend to think “If only…”
If only I wasn’t chubby, or consumed with crippling insecurity. If only I didn’t overthink everything. If only I glided through life smoothly instead of catching corners with my shoulders and doorknobs with my hips. If only I could make it across a room or a conversation without stumbling like an awkward baby deer. Imagine what a person without my issues could do with my gifting!
But we, none of us, get to be just our gifts without our issues. And maybe that’s the whole point, because the focus would so quickly become the person and what they could do, instead of our God and what He can do.
I am held back by the constant negative stream of thought, by the assumption that I bring more burden than joy to people, by clumsy hands that drop and break and shake, by allergies, by a tendency to ramble, and by the terror that I might be that person who obligates others to politely listen when I think I’m offering something helpful, something that moves them.
But Lord, you are not held back by any of these things.
All weaknesses and issues and thorns do is prevent me from plunging ahead by myself. There is no place they hold me back from if I have help. It is a good design, so that I do not reach summits alone and gaze back at my own hard work; I kneel on mountaintops before you and thank you for carrying me here.
Teach me to bring my limits to you, and look for how you will show your strength. Teach me to embrace the whole person you made me, rather than obsess over the things I wish were different. Lord, you have loved me by allowing ever-present reminders of my need for you. They are safeguards against the pride that poisons and isolates and pushes away the help I am desperate for.
So here’s to thorns. Even you wore them.
“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”