Embracing the Thorn — by Joel Vestal


2 Corinthians 12:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  

“Life is lived forward but understood looking backwards,” wrote Danish philosopher, theologian, and poet Søren Kierkegaard in the 19th century.

Paul, author of 13 books of the New Testament,  wrote about a thorn in his flesh from 2 Corinthians 12. When he wrote this,  It was 23 years after the Damascus road and he was on his third missionary journey. He has a few more battle wounds of life perhaps, and is older and embracing a mysterious paradox,  “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (vs10)   Paul’s thorn is a mystery, and he does not write what it was exactly, and this is important.  Some have  speculated  it was his eyesight or other physical ailment.  Perhaps it was other earthly passions that we all men battle:  wine, women, or wealth (or some deviation thereof).  Was it a thorn Paul brought upon himself?  Was it a thorn that “life” brought upon him? Maybe a combination of the two?  If we did know exactly what this “thorn” was, we would sure slip into discouragement if we had a “thorn” he did not have.  Indeed, this is a key reminder of the inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit.  A timeless truth for all ages, struggles/situations that rises above the pages we read and can birth in our souls faith and hope (or rebirth), even in the lowest valleys of life.

With a divorce finalized and making a decision to enter into a rehabilitation center,  I was at the end of my rope.  No, I was not at the end. I had let go of the rope.  You know what happened?   God stepped in a weak, broken soul and my discovery of the grace and mercy of God was waiting.  That “dunamis” power was experienced far beyond any successes and accomplishments of the past.   I was introduced to the strength and might of God in a fresh way and embraced a new outlook and interpretation of not just my own ‘thorns’ but the world around me.

That “power” Jesus speaks to Paul in verse 9 is the Greek word “dunamis”.  It is one of four Greek words for ‘power’ in the New Testament.  Dunamis is where we derive our English word dynamite from.   However, God’s power is not a public spectacle like an explosion or bolt of lightning. [Remember God’s dialogue with Elijah? (1 Kings 19)  God’s presence was not in the earthquake, fire, or wind but in the whisper.]

Need a fresh discovery of this “Dunamis” power for your own “thorn”?

I suggest 3 easy reminders that I practice daily.   The H.O.W. of transformation!

H = Honesty of the ‘thorn’

O=  Open Mindedness  (to that Dunamis Power)

W = Willingness  (for surrender and change)


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