No one knows exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. I think that’s on purpose. If we knew, we’d compare. If we knew, we’d treat it. But instead, what we have is that thing which keeps us from sprinting to the finish line.
It could be that he struggled with his vision, which would certainly be a hindrance for a scholar and a writer. It certainly would make it hard to do the work that he thought God had called him to do.
But he’s not the only one who feels a gap between his calling and some constraints.
- You called me to preach and I have a stammer.
- You called me to lead and I’m an introvert.
- You called me to show your love and I’ve been a tax collector, a person of no reputation.
- You called me to teach and I’m in a wheelchair.
- You called me to measure up and I simply cannot measure up.
And God says to Paul, and through Paul to us: I am enough. Being with me is what you need to do the work I’ve called you to. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- I called you to preach and you stammer and I will give you words.
- I called you to lead and you are an introvert and I will feed you in the quiet.
- I called you to show my love and you got to know people as a tax collector and now you can bless them by returning what you took, and then explaining what you did wrong.
- I called you to teach and I will teach through your life.
Those are the terms of service: Our life into God’s hands and God’s life through our hands. It will not be easy. There will be thorns. And it’s not because we somehow messed up. It’s not because God’s mad at us or wants to teach us a lesson. Not in a scolding way.
But Jesus wants to work with us and be enough for us.
If we let him.