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.” Therefore I will boast all the more
gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
The quote above is taken from 2 Corinthians 12. What is the thorn that Paul is referring to? No telling! But I like to think that it was the epilepsy which probably caused Paul’s famous vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus.
I, too, have a thorn in the flesh. Of course, I’m a Christian Quaker, but my psyche is divided between Christian spirituality and the secular spirit of this age. In spite of calling Jesus “Lord” and believing in His (mystical) Resurrection, I am tormented by the thorn of atheistic rationalism. Sometimes I DON’T believe.
Like Paul, I’ve prayed that this messenger of Satan be taken away from me, that my faith be strengthened, that my doubts disappear. However, true faith necessarily contains doubt. When there is “no” doubt within a person’s faith, the doubt is usually just suppressed and frequently makes the faith fanatical. My doubts, my weakness, save me from being arrogant about my faith. I really can’t presume my spiritual superiority to Buddhists, Moslems, Atheists, or New Age adherents. I have to accept people of any and every healthy spiritual persuasion.
And this fact makes it possible for me to flourish in a liberal Quaker meeting where people of diverse spiritualities find their spiritual home.
~ Richard Russell
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