So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then I’m content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– 2 Corinthians 12:7–10
Wow, what verses. Again, much like we talked about in 2 Corinthians 11:30… These verses are such a different way to think and live. To be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities, how is that possible? And even to go back to the beginning, verse 7, the thorn in Paul’s flesh… Which we’re not sure exactly what that is… We know he describes it as a messenger of Satan to harass him. He’s pleading for God to take it away. And God says, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 Teaches Us God Uses Thorns to Display His Power
Oh, there’s so much we could talk about here, but I want to encourage you the way I was encouraged. I remember specifically hearing Eric Saunders, one of our pastors in our local church preach on 2 Corinthians 12. And I have gone back to that sermon over and over and over again. One of the things he talked about in that sermon flowing from this text is that God uses thorns in our lives to display his power, to sustain us and to use us. And God is working in all kinds of ways through those thorns, ways that we don’t often see. Then he said, “If there’s more than one way for God to use a thorn, then there’s more than one way for you to pray about a thorn.”
And he specifically encouraged us to pray three different ways about thorns in our lives or in others’ lives. One, it’s right to pray for God to remove them. That’s what Paul’s doing here. So unless God has made clear, “I’m leaving this thorn in,” ask him to take it out, to remove thorns. Second, it’s good to praise God as long as that thorn remains for what he’s doing with that thorn. I trust God is working through your life when it comes to that thorn and others’ lives in ways you don’t see.
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 Encourages to Trust God’s Faithfulness
So praise God for the work he’s doing even when you don’t see it. Which leads us third to ask God for the strength to endure thorns. Sometimes we look around and we can’t see any good in a particular thorn. But just because you and I can’t find a good reason for a thorn, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. And so ask God for strength to endure. Trust him to be faithful to do what he said right here to Paul, “My grace will be sufficient for you and my power will be made perfect in your weakness.”
So God, we pray in all of these ways, trusting that you are sovereign over everything, in the world, in everything, in our lives, including thorns in our lives, whatever those may be, and in others’ lives. And so God, we ask you to remove thorns. We join with Paul in saying, “Please take this away.” We plead with you. God, please take these thorns away from our lives, from others’ lives around us. We ask for that, knowing you have power to do that. The same time, we trust your wisdom, your love for us and for others. And so we praise you for how you use thorns for our good and for others good, for how you’re doing that right now in ways we see and in ways we don’t see, and especially in ways we don’t see or understand.
God, we ask you for strength to endure the thorns in our lives however long they remain, knowing they won’t remain forever, knowing there’s coming a day soon when all the thorns from this world will be gone and Satan will be totally doomed. He will not be harassing us, and we will enjoy you for all of eternity. You having wiped away every tear from our eyes.
Prayer for the Daasanach People
Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. We pray and we pray for strength to endure the thorns in our lives until that day. God, we pray for all kinds of people in the world who are walking through all kinds of trials and challenges in their lives who don’t have that hope in Jesus. We pray specifically for the Daasanach people in South Sudan and other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa into Kenya and Ethiopia. God, we pray for this unreached people group of a hundred thousand, most of whom have never heard the hope of Jesus.
Lord please, especially amidst all the trials and tribulations that have happened in that part of the world, specifically in South Sudan. God please, cause the good news of your grace, your sufficient grace, your power to save to spread among the Daasanach people of South Sudan and Kenya and Ethiopia. God, may they know here and believe this gospel that we hold fast to amidst the thorns of this life. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name according to your Word in 2 Corinthians 12. Amen.