The Gift of Thorns

         God gives some people an abundance; Paul was one such person. Second Corinthians chapter 12 tells us that so many revelations were given to him that God deemed it necessary to supply him with one more thing: “a thorn in the flesh.” Bible expositors through the years have debated about exactly what that thorn might have been, but several things about it are clear from just a cursory reading of the text. First, the thorn was “in the flesh,” in other words, it was a physical problem. Second, the thorn was perpetrated by “a messenger of Satan to buffet [him].” This seems to be much like when God allowed Satan to mess with Job (see Job 1 and 2). Third, the thorn was bothersome, so much so that Paul “pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart.”

           The fourth characteristic about the thorn is the most interesting; it had a purpose. After the third time Paul begged for it to be removed, God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NKJ).

           God knows us so well that He realizes many times we can’t properly handle the magnitude of His goodness to us. His blessings are so awesome that we can easily become lost in them. Because of their rich magnificence (after all, those are the only kinds of gifts God has to give), God knows our eyes and hearts will be prone to turn toward worshipping them to the exclusion of honoring Him. He, therefore, wisely provides us with the gift of thorns. He doesn’t take away the other gifts, the talents, and the revelations, but He tempers them with thorns so we don’t get beside ourselves.

           Once God answered Paul’s prayer with a “no,” he understood what God was up to and responded, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (verse 9b).

          Giftedness comes as an amazing blessing, but so are the boundaries God builds for us, and the precautions He takes to be sure we keep our eyes steadily on Him. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” Luke12:48(NKJ). God knows what He’s doing when He rewards us with thorns. We are but the stem, thorns and all, allowing the rose of His face to blossom—through the faithful use of our gifts—so others can enjoy the sweet fragrance of His presence.


©2011 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at Also, periodically check in at to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 And pick up a copy of Sharon’s new book, Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame, available at Christian bookstores, online, from New Hope Publishers, and from the Life That Matters Ministries’ website.



~ by sanewriter on September 23, 2011.

11 Responses to “The Gift of Thorns”

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