A thorn in the flesh. Such vivid imagery. The sharp end of a thorn pierces the soft skin of life and lodges beneath the surface. Every step is a reminder of the thorn in the flesh.
The cancer in the body.
The sorrow in the heart.
The child in the rehab center.
The red ink on the ledger.
The felony on the record.
The craving for whiskey in the middle of the day.
The tears in the middle of the night.
The thorn in the flesh.
“Take it away,” you’ve pleaded. Not once, twice, or even three times. You’ve outprayed Paul. He prayed a sprint; you’ve prayed the Boston Marathon. And you’re about to hit the wall at mile nineteen. The wound radiates pain, and you see no sign of tweezers coming from heaven. But what you hear is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Grace takes on an added dimension here. Paul is referring to sustaining grace. Saving grace saves us from our sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. (emphasis mine) It surprises us in the middle of our personal transatlantic flights with ample resources of faith. Sustaining grace promises not the absence of struggle but the presence of God.
Lucado, Max (2012-09-11). Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine (p. 98). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.