Why Won’t You Remove This Thorn, Lord?

I have struggled all night about whether or not to write this post that I am going to share with you.  You see, I never want to tell you something that I am not able to do myself.  But God has put a burning desire in me to share this message with each of you today.  Maybe we can learn something together.  2 Corinthians 12:8-9 says:

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Let me give you a little background about Paul leading up to this verse.  Scripture tells us that Paul was a great man of God.  His ministry was growing and he performed many miracles through the power of Christ.  But we see that Paul had something that was bothering him.  It bothered Paul so much that he prayed three times for it to be removed.  We are told about this “thorn in the flesh” that was very grievous to Paul.  It is uncertain what the “thorn in the flesh” was, but many scholars believe it could have been acute bodily pain or sickness.  Some even believe it could have been spiritual in nature – such as a temptation or persecution from an indivdual that constantly harassed Paul.  In any case, He was growing very distressed.

After Paul prayed three times for this thorn to be removed, we see that God didn’t remove it.  It is at this point that I ask myself why didn’t God answer Paul’s prayer?  He was a faithful servant full of faith and yet, God didn’t remove the very thing that was distressing him the most.   God’s answer to Paul is that His grace and strength would be sufficient for him to bear through the pain. Paul was drawing closer to God with his “thorn in the flesh.” Could it be that sometimes our prayers are not answered quickly because God is wanting to use our circumstance to draw us closer to Himself?  

I think about a medical diagnosis that I have been praying about for thirteen years to be taken away.  I don’t like the pain and uncertainty that comes along with the disease.  But as I look back, I realized that every time I would have a flare up, I would begin to press into God more by praying and reading the Bible.  The “thorn” was actually bringing me closer to God.  I realized when I was weak and feeling like I couldn’t go on anymore, was when God would demonstrate His power to me the most.  God’s grace flooded over me to allow me to push through my circumstances.  Although unpleasant, I begin to see that my “thorns” act as an aid rather than a handicap.  Paul realized this point long before me and it may be why he wrote 2 Corinthians 12:10:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I don’t know if I can say that yet.  I don’t like it when things get hard.  But Paul is saying that he takes pleasure in trials because it is when he sees God’s demonstrated power the most.  So maybe it is safe to say that sometimes God uses certain circumstances in our lives or certain people to buffet us so that we remain humbled and in constant need of Him.  Maybe we need to begin to look at our hardships as blessings from God because they are drawing us closer to Him (or at least they should be).  

I am reminded of a song from Laura Story called Blessing that I want to share with you.  The chorus goes:

What if your blessings come through raindrops, What if your healing comes through tears, What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near.  What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life, Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.  And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

This song brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.  The questions are so deep and yet so matter of fact.  I guess my biggest question for you as well as for myself is this:  If God never answers your prayer or never removes the thorn that buffets you, will you still love and serve Him?  Run to God in your pain.  He is and will always be right by your side.  It may just be that the trial you are going through is serving a greater purpose that you may never know the answer to until you get to heaven.



18 thoughts on “Why Won’t You Remove This Thorn, Lord?

  1. Pingback: Is Your Thorn a Pain or an Aid? | Where Did You Find God Today?

  2. Lori- thank you for sharing this amazing insight God has revealed to you.I know it will touch many people. For some reason, the re-blog button didn’t seem to want to work, so I copied part of it into my blog today: http://wheredidyoufindgodtoday.com/2014/01/23/is-your-thorn-a-pain-or-an-aid/
    I referenced your name as the author and linked it back to your blog so people can read the whole thing. I also asked them to share it with others they may know who are in pain. I hope that is okay.

  3. Pingback: Servant Leadership | Inspirational Matters

  4. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. I think most of us have some thorns sticking in us. Prayerfully we seek to continue serving Our Lord. Praying for your “thorn”. (And mine)
    Thanks for following my blog. There is another thorn coming on it later today.

  5. Thanks so much for posting your insight on this subject!! When I set out to find some help for a friend who is going through some dreadful times physically, I was in search of something that I could share with her that maybe would give her strength to “push through the pain” that she is dealing with!!!! I know that God guided to the very words that she needs to hear to give her that nugget of hope she needs to get through this!!! I will be adding your name to my prayer list that God will continue to use your infirmities for His glory!!!!

  6. Thank you so much for this post for it has encouraged me in so many ways. 3 plus years later your post is still touching lives. Thanks for your obedience, to God be the glory!

  7. Thank you Lori- Very clear, to the point and I believe an accurate answer to why God didn’t remove Pauls thorn….as hard as it is for our human minds to comprehend that we can actually draw nearer to God throught unanswered prayer than answered prayer!! So hard to appreciate yeah?!!!
    Furthermore, I think in Pauls weakness with the thorn in his flesh it very much parrallels the experience Jesus had on the cross for when Jesus chose to be “weak” and allow himself to be crucified this exponentially showed God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead!! So similarly in Pauls weakness God shows his power through out Pauls amazing ministry despite Pauls ongoing experience of persecution and being humiliated. What do you think?

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