The thorn is still left to pierce and lacerate!
(John MacDuff, "The Thoughts of God")
"My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9
The apostle's thoughts were desponding ones — when his God whispered in his ear this precious thought of comfort. A thorn in the flesh — a messenger from Satan — had been sent to buffet him! We know not what this thorn may have been. God purposely leaves it unidentified, that each may make an individual application to his own particular case and circumstances.
But who, in their diversified and chequered experience, has not to tell of some similar trial? Some dead fly in life's otherwise fragrant ointment — some sorrow which casts a softened shadow over perhaps an otherwise sunny path:
the discharge of arduous and painful duty;
the treachery of tried and trusted friends;
the sting of wounded pride or disappointed ambition;
the fierce struggle with inward corruption and un-mortified sin;
the scorpion-dart of a violated and accusing conscience!
As the apostle earnestly entreated that his thorn might be taken away — so may you, reader, also have prayed fervently and long — that your trial might be averted, your sorrow mitigated, if not removed! You doubtless imagine that it would be far better — were this messenger of Satan, this spirit of evil, exorcized and cast out! But here again, God's thoughts are often not our thoughts!
What was the answer to the apostle's earnest petition, when he pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away? It was not granting the removal of the trial — but it was better! It was the promise of grace to bear it. "And He said unto me: My grace is sufficient for you!"
It was enough; he asked no more. He may have demurred at first to the strange answer — so unlike what he expected, so unlike what he wished. But he was led before long, not only joyfully to acquiesce — but heartily to own and acknowledge the higher and better wisdom of the Divine procedure, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!"
This, too, may be God's dealings with you. Often and again, it may be — you have taken your hidden sorrow — the burdening secret of your heart — laid it on the mercy-seat, and with importunate tears implored that it might be taken away! Yet the sorrow still remains! But, nevertheless, remember: the prayer is not unanswered. It has been answered — not perhaps according to your thoughts or desires — but according to the better thoughts and purposes of your heavenly Father!
The thorn is still left to pierce and lacerate — but strength has been given to bear it! The trial, be what it may, has taught you, as it did Paul — the lesson of your own weakness, and your dependence on Divine aid. It has been a needful drag on your chariot wheels — a needful clipping of your wings — lest, like the great apostle, "you should be exalted above measure." Who can complain of the heaviest of sorrows — if they have thus been the means alike of revealing to us our own weakness — and of endearing to us the all-sufficient grace of a Savior God?
Blessed, comforting assurance: that God will deal out the requisite grace — in all time of our need. Seated by us like a kind physician, with His hand on our pulse — He will watch our weakness, and accommodate the divine supply — to our several needs and circumstances. He will not allow the thorn to pierce too far! "As your day — so shall your strength be." "Grace sufficient" will be given — sufficient for every emergency. His everlasting arms are ever lower than our troubles!
"Do not be afraid — for I am with you. Do not be dismayed — for I am your God! I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!"