Some years ago I was reading an evangelistic magazine in America when an advert from an evangelist caught my eye. He boasted that if he was invited to preach at any church he guaranteed that at least one hundred people would be saved!
Probably one of the greatest evangelists that ever walked this earth was Paul who saw such wonderful results on his missionary journeys. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 he realised how foolish boasting was, and despite all his revelations and ministry the Lord had allowed a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to keep him from becoming conceited! He had to face up to the fact that God’s grace was more at work in his life when he acknowledged his weaknesses. The thorn was the Lord’s will for him and would help him to become more Christ-like in his character and mission.
So, if Paul needed a ‘thorn in his flesh’ do we, from time to time, need to experience not only the Lord’s admonishment from His word but someone with God’s wisdom and love alongside to guide us (Colossians 3:16)?
In the gospels we see many times when Peter, James and John (the three leaders Jesus had picked) needed to be gently, but firmly, admonished by the Lord. They were no doubt at the centre of the debate amongst the disciples as to who was the greatest! (Mark:9 33-34). John and James, the ‘sons of thunder’, wanted Jesus to do anything they asked! (Mark 10:35). Peter, who could not help telling the Lord how to do things, also had a painful thorn moment when he denied the Lord three times. These men came out of their brokenness (John lost his brother James) and experienced a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Thorns do work for good; sometimes it’s the Holy Spirit speaking through the word about our lives, or someone like Nathan the Prophet telling King David a parable about sheep to get across to him his sinful behaviour and its consequences. Is the present virus a means of reminding us of our need to cry out to the Lord for His healing power?
I have lost several friends recently and realised how fragile life is and how we all need to encourage each other with words that build up, but also with wise words that God has put on our hearts to help a friend on their journey to maturity.