"So to keep me from becoming conceited...a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited." (2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV) Paul writes this about his life and his service to the Lord. In a worldly sense, he could be conceited. Look at what had been accomplished through his ministry. Churches were started. People were converted. Salvation came to household after household. He was writing letters that would later become part of the corpus of what we call the New Testament. He could say, "It is all about me." But he didn't. Instead he continued to say, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV) The focus of his life was upon Jesus Christ. He would join with John the Baptist in saying, "I must decrease so that he will increase." It is all about Jesus. SO he had the thorn in the flesh that continued to plague him in his life. It kept him humble. It kept his focus upon Christ.
I don't claim to be St. Paul, not even in the same category. I am a parish pastor, serving where the Lord has placed me, following His guidance. But I can say with Paul "To keep me from becoming conceited, a thorn was given me in the flesh." And the challenge becomes learning to live with it in each day. I long for healing. I long for this thorn to be taken from me but the Lord says to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV) There is that part of me that begs the Lord to take the thorn from me for I do not wish to face it. But in all that I have tried, the answer continues to come back, "My grace is sufficient for you."
So I continue to live in Christ. I continue to let His strength be my strength. I learn my limits. And I pray for forgiveness when I become impatient, edgy, stubborn and whatever else Penny would put in there as she puts up with me. Yes, His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in my weakness. Lord, be powerful. Then comes the thought, "But do I have be so weak?" Then I hang my head and realize, I am back where I began. That is truly the way life is. Always learning to live in Him