‘To keep me from becoming proud.’
The Bible doesn’t tell us what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but Paul tells us why God permitted it: ‘To keep me from becoming proud.’ Increased achievement and success can lead to increased pride and independence from God. Have you noticed that when life is going great, staying close to God is sometimes difficult? We tend to think God is so good to us because we are so good to Him. We must always guard against this. God can use anything for your good and His glory. In His wisdom and patience, He permits something we think is intended to hurt us, but He turns it around and uses it to help us. Here is what He does: He balances blessings with burdens. The psalmist said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits’ (Psalm 68:19 NKJV). If God filled your hands only with blessings, eventually you would fall over on your face. And if He continually loaded your back with burdens, you would fall on your hindquarters. So He apportions blessings and burdens so that we can stay in balance. It’s easy to get out of balance. We become so absorbed with the joys of heaven that we neglect our calling to be salt and light here on earth. We get so involved in the work of the Lord that we fail to spend time with the Lord of the work. We get so involved in church that we rob our families of the love and attention they need. So God brings us back into balance by giving us a thorn.