Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Apostle Paul has been credited with creating about half of the New Testament books in the Bible. Both Jesus and Paul defied the ruling Roman Empire and proclaimed a new kingdom of God on earth based on faith, not force, and a diversity in Christ, not Caesar. Their message caught on and spread like a Kansas prairie fire, even though their threatened religious and political enemies had them both executed. Jesus defeated death to inspire a new religious movement. And Paul was the fallible but dedicated Jewish convert whose subsequent teachings and suffering enabled him to define it.
One of the many fascinating aspects of Paul’s life was a reference to what he described as a a thorn in his flesh in the twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians. Paul apparently prayed for God to remove this affliction, but it remained as a demonstration of His power in Paul. In fact, we learn that many of the people God choose in the Bible were weaker than most of those around them. And it generally left no question as to where these prominent “vessels of clay” were receiving the strength and blessings they poured out over their contemporaries. By acknowledging their weakness, they affirmed God’s ability to effect lasting change in the world by using their divinely inspired abilities.
Perhaps it is by design that Paul’s euphemistic “thorn” is never defined for certain. That leaves the door open for us to relate to any weakness, either mental or physical, that we ourselves may have acquired on life’s journey. And this “thorn” can assume the form of a wide variety of afflictions from debilitating diseases to crippling addictions. Many of these maladies may ultimately only be healed in the next life. But dealing with these “thorns” can prove to be a powerful testament of God’s grace working through you as you persevere in this life and the “language of your life” inspires others.