I am convinced that every one of us has some flaw or annoying characteristic that persists, frustrates, annoys, and ultimately aggravates the heck out of us. When these flaws are recurring sins in our life, they can also make us feel weak and ashamed. Our interior battle to overcome these “thorns” can leave us exhausted. We are left to contemplate God’s unwillingness to remove our thorn. I believe He has a good reason for allowing these struggles to continue. Please read more to discover why…
I don’t know about each of you, but I can state with certainty that there are areas in my life that I know are not pleasing to God. It seems that no matter how hard I try to overcome these imperfections, and no matter how hard I pray to God asking Him to remove them, they still remain. Can you identify with this battle in your own life? Some people even feel cursed by their recurring sinfulness. These thorns of ours can be unrelenting!
Our afflictions and flaws can cause us to get down on ourselves. We can become frustrated by our inability to overcome our recurring sins. At their worst, our sins can make us feel hopeless. We must never give up and never give in to despair.
St. Paul makes it clear that he had a thorn and that after prayer God still chose not to remove it. Paul wrote: “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me.” He continued by writing: “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:7-10)
How was Paul able to become content with his weakness and what exactly did he mean when he stated that for the sake of Christ he became strong through it?
Paul was given insight to see the folly of relying on his own abilities. He could see that self-reliance led to misplaced trust. As long as his “thorn” persisted, he was forced to remain dependent on Jesus Christ. The same is true for all of us.
If tomorrow you could wave a magic wand over yourself and poof…..your recurring sins and struggles suddenly vanished away, would you find yourself more drawn or less drawn to Jesus and His mercy and love? What would your life be like without your flaws, sins and struggles that keep you on your knees? I have often contemplated this in my own life. Looking back I can see, much like St. Paul, that is was through my weaknesses that God made me stronger. He allowed me to see my own inability to set myself free.
Our flaws can be seen as a buttress against unbridled pride. Without some character flaws and recurring struggles against sin, our pursuit of perfectionism would take us down the road of runaway ambition, greed, unchecked vanity, self-reliance and worst of all, more pride.
I am convinced that Christians often confuse holiness with perfectionism. On this side of death, we will never achieve perfection. If we want to draw close to our heavenly Father, we do so by accepting our need and dependence on His Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our sins bring us face to face with God through our reliance on Christ’s mercy and unconditional love.
Allow me to ask you again, without your “thorn,” do you think you would be closer or would you drift farther from God? God wants us to depend on Him alone. He wants us to abandon our misguided belief that we can make all things right in our lives. The very pain of our thorn may be the blessing that keeps us always returning to God. Our thorns keep us humble.
When God does not answer our plea to remove our thorns, it is not because he has abandoned us or because he doesn’t care. Quite the contrary, God loves us so much, that He allows our thorn to persist to keep us close to Him.
Beating ourselves up needlessly over our imperfections does not make God happy. What pleases God is to simply acknowledge our dependence on His Son.
Our weaknesses of course don’t give us free rein to just keep on sinning. As followers of Jesus, we should always strive to be changed people and strive to avoid sin at every occasion; but when we fail and fall short, we need only to repent, tell God we are sorry, and rely on Him to see us through.
So the next time you become frustrated when some persistent area of sinfulness pops up again in your life, try to remember that although you can’t seem to break free from its grip, God understands your weakness and His love and mercy for you are never ending.
Heavenly Father, help me never to forget that when I am weak, you Son Jesus is forever strong. Help me to always allow Him to carry me when I fall. Amen!
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