In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 the apostle Paul said that he had a “thorn in his flesh”. Paul could well have meant this metaphorically, but let me tell you – after our holiday in South Africa, I think I understand a wee bit better what Paul meant – namely that something was hurting him badly!
You see, while in South Africa, poor wee Nehan fell full force into a huge thorn that sucks into your flesh. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The thorn was stuck in his hand… He tried pulling it out himself, then big brother Henro had a shot, and even daddy André tried his best – but to no avail. And through all of this the screaming just got louder and louder. When I saw the agony on Nehan’s face, I just knew I had to get that thorn out – so I bit on my teeth…and I pulled it out! But by this time his whole hand was swollen and red and very painful, even without the thorn in it. The poor child couldn’t use his hand for 2 days!
But luckily, being just the way kids are, before long something else happened that was exciting, and the thorn was quickly forgotten. After all this, my boys decided that “Africa is not for sissies”! It’s so nice to be back home here in Scotland, where if your child falls, the only thing your need to get rid of is the mud on his hands and knees!
Nobody knows exactly what Paul was referring to when he spoke about “the thorn in his flesh”, but it must have been something that hurt him constantly. Only difference is, THIS thorn was never going to be pulled out by anybody…
So Paul decided that if he couldn’t change his situation, he’d just have to change his attitude. Which made him decide to delight in his weaknesses, because then, he said, he’d remember that in himself he can do nothing, - he is utterly dependent on the grace of Christ.
May we all have that very same attitude in this new academic year – if we have any thorns in our flesh that we CAN pull out – let’s do that straight away, and leave the past in the past. But if there are things in our lives that bother us that we cannot change – let’s accept it, let’s even delight in it, because if we have Christ in our lives, in the words of Paul: “When we are weak, THEN we are strong.”
May God bless you all in 2018/2019,