Roses are beautiful creations. They may vary in size, color, and even in shape. But they still have those nasty thorns. No matter how careful I am when I handle them, I always stick myself. In Paul’s 2nd letter the Corinthians, he notes, To keep me from being proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me. (2 Cor. 12:7)
You might think that a mighty apostle like Paul who was given so much by God to share with the New Testament church would be able to pray away this thorn. After all, he had already endured 39 lashes five times, been beaten with rods three times, and been stoned once. He had come through to the other side of each of these times of suffering.
Paul prayed three times for God to remove the thorn. With all that he had already suffered, how severe this thorn must have been to cause Paul to beg God for relief. People have guessed that it might have been malaria, depression, epilepsy, blindness, or an unusually strong temptation. He never records that God delivered him. In fact, immediately following his words in verse seven, Paul wrote, Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, My power works best in weakness. Job, too, endured great suffering at the hand of Satan. Yet behind Satan’s activity was the sovereign hand of God, who permitted the suffering to bring Job to a greater understanding of his Creator and Redeemer.
There will be times when God does not give us the answer or deliverance we think we need. But we can be certain that when we seek Him in prayer, He will always give us the grace and strength we need. So don’t give up on yourself and God because of that one trial or temptation that you can’t seem to overcome. God is still in control and His grace is still sufficient. As Job said, I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end He will stand on the earth. Job 19:25. What will we learn from our trial or temptation?
* If you’re interested in art or writing, please check out our Activities page to find an online application and rules for our 1st Annual Online Christmas Art Contest. The deadline for submissions is December 12, at 5:00PM.