First, let me give an example. I am currently a silent witness to a family situation over which I have no control. Many of your own families have been in this position: one member is temporarily without employment, and it affects everyone in that extended family. It can leave one with an anxious feeling of helplessness, not able to “fix” the problem. It is a very uncomfortable feeling; things are not in the “order” we are accustomed to following every day. The feeling is further compounded when other family members are unable to help through financial means because of simple economics.
To me, that is one good definition of “a thorn in the side” – a pain of whatever kind that is beyond our control to change for the better. We really don’t know what the “thorn” was for St. Paul. He was given extraordinary revelations and visions. In his own analysis, the danger he perceived was that he would become too proud because of those special blessings. For that reason he believed that he was “given” a thorn to remind him of his dependence on the Lord alone. Perhaps it was a physical weakness. Perhaps it was a psychological anguish, since he could not “reach” or “touch” the hearts of many of his listeners. Whatever it was, the thorn could not be removed; it was beyond his control.
Whether we are in a medical situation or a work dilemma, we are called upon to reach deep within, grab hold of our faith, and trust in the Lord that all will be well. We know that he is with us in our sufferings. As he told St. Paul, “My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” Faith is all about trusting, even if we do not know what lies ahead.
God who created everything can do everything; only faith can discern that this power is loving and is made perfect in weakness. If we humbly acknowledge our weakness and dependence on God, we will be drawn in faith to recognise that nothing is impossible with God, and that he will do the most lovable thing for us in answer to our prayers.