The New Testament tells us a lot about Peter. He wasn’t a wallflower that’s for sure. He asked Jesus to call him out of the boat, Jesus did and Peter stepped out and walked on water. He was fine until he started looking down. He told Jesus that he would never deny Him. We know that Peter would deny Jesus three times. He cut off Malchus’ ear in the garden, only to have Jesus put the ear back in place. He was even more concerned about what John would do on the beach with the risen Jesus. And who knows how many other stories could be told on Peter for doing or saying something that he shouldn’t have.
Do you think there were people in Peter’s life that would remind him of some of the things he had done? Even after Pentecost, do you think some people continued to bring up some of the boneheaded things he had done in the past? If so, do you think he considered it a type of thorn in his side? Do you think if that happened it would humble him?
Then there’s the Apostle Paul. He wrote about the “thorn in his side.” He asked God to remove it a number of times. And the answer was “NO.” We don’t know what the thorn was. No matter what scholars or those who claim to have figured it out say, we don’t know what it was. Nor do we need to know. I don’t think the specific thorn is important, not in Paul’s life or in ours. One thing we do know, Paul counted it “ALL” joy.
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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 weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10.
The more I try to grow closer to God and to fill my life with His word, my thorn is brought to my attention at different times. I desire that it be removed but fortunately for me, it hasn’t been removed. As difficult as it is to say, I am thankful. Thankful that it is there, even though it is incredibly painful, always embarrassing and relentlessly pursuing me.
For me it’s a grounding mechanism. Whenever I think that I am better than who I really am or as my Mom would say: “You’re getting too big for your britches”, my thorn brings me back to where I should be. Humbled.
Now don’t get me wrong, it hurts and I wish I didn’t have to deal with it. I want it to go away and never be heard from again. But as soon as that happened, I would be on the wrong path doing the wrong things. The “Me Monster” would be in control, or should I say out of control. It’s hard for me to count it all joy, but I know I should.
Do you have a “thorn”? How do you deal with it? Do you consider it a positive or negative in your life?
Finally, it seems so easy to forget the crown of thorns that was placed on Christ’s head. We think of the brutal beating and the crucifixion but sometimes seem to skip over the crown of thorns. I can’t imagine how painful that had to be. Even so, Christ endured and overcame. We can endure when it comes to the thorns in our lives. Jesus did. Paul did. Will we?
May we always be running to the cross of Christ!