A Thorn in the Side

” Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.b 8Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,c 9* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d 10Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;e for when I am weak, then I am strong.*”  2 Corinthians 12

So what is the thorn that is in our side ?  How did it get there ?  Why does it continue to be part of our existence?  and Why have we not gotten relief from the pain we carry ?  Is your particular pain a person, a job, a responsibility, a sickness or some other things you would rather just not deal with ?

There in weakness and in pain we are tested, and the weakness takes us to a place where we set aside the things of the world, and turn to God for understanding.  Weakness and suffering have been the fire through which many holy men and women have become saints.

Have you ever wondered why there are no many conversions in the prisons or hospitals and nursing homes ?  It is not so much from fear, as it is from the fact that they become faced with their own weaknesses, and frailties.  They look outside for the reasons that there is weakness and the purpose for their lives, to ask those questions and to desire those answers.  A good deal of the time there is a good bit of nothing but time to sit there and contemplate these things since the rest of the world goes on spinning. 

It  may not be our own suffering, it may be that way be that it is the suffering of those we care about that causes us to ask these questions or possibly just the occasion of the suffering of the world.  As children we were told to eat everything we had on our plates and not to waste anything because there were starving children in Biafra ( what is part of  Modern day Nigeria ).. and usually when Mom made liver for dinner .

As with many things in God’s plans, we may not understand the reason for what is going on in our lives ” in the moment”.  We may gain some insights into why something happened down the road.  The other side is that we may never know until we get to heaven.  It may not even be for our benefit initially.  Maybe our suffering could be in order to have us meet someone, or be an example to others.

We can all really someone who not only suffered in grace, but who went beyond themselves, from being the recipient of graces, but to the service of others and being the vessel of grace to their brothers and sisters.  When we move from the idea of looking inward for answers, to moving outward toward service to others, This is where we move from the potential for grace, to grace in action, and receive Paul’s experience in sharing Christ with others.

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