How do you stay optimistic about God in a painful situation that isn’t going to change? For example: arthritis that laughs at Aleve; singleness making you bluer than George Jones’s He Stopped Loving Her Today; a job so boring it makes watching someone else’s home movies seem like skydiving; a Pharaoh oppressive boss. You get the point.

How do you stay optimistic about God in these things? Through Thorn Therapy. The Great Physician engages in it in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.

Paul has a “thorn.” He doesn’t identify it. But he does tell us its painful and permanent. Painful, because his “fight or flight” mechanism flashes “flee!”: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.” Permanent, because the Lord says “No” to his prayer (Verse 8). So, we have here a Christian in a negative circumstance that isn’t going to change.

The “therapy” moves Paul from pessimism to optimism, victim to victor, and grief to gladness. It enables him to “boast” about his thorn and be “content” with it (verses 9 & 10). So, we have here a Christian who stays optimistic in a negative circumstance that isn’t going to change.

Any therapy producing this is the spiritual equivalent of a cure for cancer.

4 Truths About Thorn Therapy

Let’s look at Thorn Therapy’s panacea truths. There are four.

Thorn Therapy Truth Onewe can be optimistic about God in a negative circumstance that isn’t going away because what’s happening is a Thorn Gift.

“A thorn was given to me” (verse 7). By whom? Christ (verse 8 – 10 make clear that the “Lord” is Christ). Still, even coming from Him, how is it a gift? Imagine you’re suffocating and the only way a doctor can save you is by taking a pocketknife and cutting a hole in your trachea and inserting a straw so you can breathe. Wouldn’t you look at what he did as a gift even though it was painful and left a permanent scar?

Your thorn’s that kind of gift. Embrace it as such.

Thorn Therapy Truth Twowe can be optimistic about God in a negative circumstance that isn’t going away because what’s happening is a Thorn Good.

It’s the good the thorn brings as the wise men brought treasures to Jesus that makes it a gift. What’s this good? One of the best we can receive: humility. “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations there was given me a thorn in the flesh . . . to keep me from becoming conceited” (verse 7). Anything that makes me feel how weak I am (‘weakness’ is stressed in verses 9 & 10); that reminds me I’m just a branch that can do nothing without the Vine; and, consequently, that makes me cling to Jesus as tightly as cellophane wrapping on a CD case is a pearl of great price.

Your thorn offers you this good. Embrace it as such.

Thorn Therapy Truth Three: we can be optimistic about God in a negative circumstance that isn’t going away because what’s happening comes with Thorn Grace.

Don’t you so long to experience Christ’s power that you say with Paul, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10)? Well, just as a storm-darkened sky is the venue for God’s display of His power through lightning, so thorn-caused humility is the venue for Jesus to display His power. When Jesus tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9) He’s saying, “I’ve sent this thorn to give you the gift of humility and to show you and others that my grace is so great it can keep a weak person like you optimistic even in negative circumstances that aren’t going away.”

Your thorn offers you an opportunity to experience Jesus’ power in a dramatic way. Embrace it as such.

Thorn Therapy Truth Four: we can be optimistic about God in a negative circumstance that isn’t going away because what’s happening leads to Thorn Glory.

Once someone spit in the face of Salvation Army General William Booth. An aide pulled a handkerchief to wipe the saliva. “Leave it,” Booth said. “It’s a medal.” So is my thorn. It’s an opportunity for Charley Lynn Chase to be a place where I, and others, see how great Jesus is. When weak Charley handles his thorn with optimism he sings, “Hallelujah, what a Savior!” And when others see this amazing sight they ask, “How can you be optimistic in this?” And I have the joy of saying, “Because of Jesus!”

Our thorn offers us this opportunity of glorifying our Savior. Embrace it as such.

I am Weak but He is Strong

Every negative circumstance that isn’t going away is a thorn gift bringing thorn good and thorn grace and offering an opportunity for thorn glory.

Thorn Therapy caused Paul to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then am I strong” (verses 9-10).

In other words, it made him optimistic in his negative circumstance that wasn’t going away.

Doesn’t it do the same for you?

 

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