To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, 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
Once Martin Wells Knapp (1853-1901), the founding president of God’s Bible School & College, Cincinnati, Ohio, was undergoing a painful trial. While in prayer, one day, he asked the Lord to remove the problem. In relating this painful encounter, Lettie Cowman (1870-1960) wrote, “As he waited before the Lord the vision of a rough piece of marble rose before him with a sculptor grinding and chiseling. Watching the dust and chips fill the air, he noticed a beautiful image begin to appear in the marble.”
Cowman proceeds to relate how the Lord spoke to Knapp and said, “Son, you are that block of marble. I have an image in mind, and desire to produce it in your character, and will do so if you will stand the grinding; but I will stop now if you so desire.” Knapp’s resolute response was, “Lord, continue the chiseling and grinding.”*
Years ago, I copied on the flyleaf of one of my Bibles the following words written by Francis Asbury (1745-1816), American Methodism’s premier pioneer circuit rider and leader: “Dear Lord, if Thou seest Thy servant will miss the way, in tender pity send a thorn deep into his side to drive him to Thy Christ and Thy Calvary.”
Free Church of Scotland pastor and hymn writer, George Matheson (1842-1906)—who is perhaps best known for his hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”—once confessed to his lack of gratitude for a most unpleasant providence (he became totally blind at age 20). While contemplating his ingratitude one day, he wrote, “My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn.”
Don’t ask God to remove what he wants to use. In time, Paul understood how God wanted to use a “thorn” in his own life: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”
*Lettie Cowman, Springs in the Valley (Los Angeles: The Oriental Missionary Society, 1939), 62.
Reprinted from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
– paperback and Kindle editions available at Amazon.com –