True Life Church Community Blog

The Thorn In Your Marriage (Chris Francis)

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7-9

God did many miracles through the apostle Paul, so Paul saw first-hand the healing and delivering power of God. But there was one area of his own life where he didn’t get to see God’s deliverance. Not in the way he wanted to, at least.

He had a thorn in his flesh, a “messenger of Satan.” Scholars have debated through the centuries on what this thorn was – maybe a physical ailment, maybe a specific temptation that wouldn’t go away, maybe the persecution from his colleagues who were now against him.

We don’t know specifically what Paul’s affliction was, but we know he asked God to take it away. The phrase “three times” was probably not literal. It was a phrase that referred to a multitude of times, a constant pleading and asking of the Lord.

And yet the Lord did not answer his prayers the way he wanted him to.

The Lord only said – “My grace is sufficient. My power is made perfect in your weakness.”

In other words – this will keep you humble, dependent, prayerful, compassionate, and it will showcase my glory even more when people see me work through your weakness.

It’s an awesome and sobering passage.

And based on this passage and its meaning, I have a theory about marriage.

Ready for it?

I believe each marriage has a thorn in its flesh.

At least one thorn in any given season.

The bible doesn’t say it does, but let me explain my theory.

I don’t know anyone who could read the above passage and say, “I don’t know what Paul is talking about. All my prayers get answered the way I want them to. All my afflictions and suffering cease when I ask God to intervene.”

All of us have experienced – or are experiencing – certain types of problems that just won’t go away. Some of us watch others get healed of physical illnesses and ailments while we are still dealing with ours.

Some of us watch others seem to be delivered from addictions overnight, while we are still tempted every day with ours.

Some of us seem to constantly fall into money problems, as if our jobs and cars and real estate were conspiring against us.

Some of us battle depression on a regular basis.

Some of us are still dealing with the wounds from childhood abuse.

So I think all of us could say, “yeah, I’ve had a thorn or two in my life.” Some thorns lasted a few years. Others a few decades. Others are still lingering.

Well, what happens when one person with a “thorn in the flesh” marries another person with a “thorn in the flesh”?

You get two people who become one flesh dealing with two thorns in that flesh.

See what I mean?

Don’t like my theory?

Think I went out on a limb a little too far?

Well, think about your own marriage – are there things that you guys have dealt with as a couple that seem to constantly rear their ugly heads on a regular basis?

An addiction that affects your marriage? A physical illness or ailment that affects your marriage? A child who is always getting into trouble? Are you that couple that seems to always be dealing with one financial set-back after another?  Are you that couple that seems to always be at the hospital? The funeral home? The rehab clinic? The county jail?

Well, whether you can agree with my theory or not, at least read the rest. It’s the most important.

The temptation is to look at our marital problems think, “If only we could conquer this thing once and for all, then we’d have a great marriage. If only we had as much money as the Robertsons, then we’d have a solid marriage like they do. If only our kid would get his act together, then we’d have time to be in love again.”

But nobody likes the couple that has it all together. Nobody is inspired from the couple that has it all together. And God’s strength is not made perfect in the couple that has it all together.

When I look at a couple who have been through the ringer, and still love each other, it’s a testament to God’s grace. When I see a husband or wife who chooses on a daily basis to carry the extra-heavy burden of their spouse’s weakness, I am reminded of how strong God is.

So if your marriage has a thorn – ask God to take it away. But each day that he doesn’t, trust that his grace is sufficient. Trust that his strength is being displayed in your weakness. Trust that God is doing something in your marriage that is bigger than your marriage.

Trust that through your marriage’s weakness, God is displaying his mighty power to the world.

Whether you like my theory or not.

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