Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
A thorn in the flesh has been, or will be given to each of us, and the way in which we deal with that thorn is up to us. There’s a risk of becoming embittered by our suffering or we can learn patience and and trust. We might learn to accept limitations on our bodies or psyches and grow spiritually in ways that we otherwise might not. One of the most painful and yet spiritually fruitful times of my life was during a period in which I had two spine surgeries. Prior to those years I had been very active and athletic and my incapacitation forced me to become sedentary. I explored my spirituality in more depth than I had before and I grew closer to God. I was humbled in ways that I had never expected and certainly never wanted. I couldn’t care for myself and I was forced to accept, and rely on, help from family, friends and even strangers. What I first viewed as my humiliation, became something for which I was grateful. I was deeply moved by the love that was shown to me in the form of kind acts both large and small. God’s grace is indeed sufficient for us. Our weaknesses and our frailties can be opportunities for growth.