By Love Transformed, by R.T. Kendall

Want to receive By Love Transformed by email? Sign up here

Severe Mercy

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. —Proverbs 3:12

St. Augustine said that God loves every person as though there were no one else to love. Likewise, He deals with each of us as though there were no one else to deal with. He knows all about us and therefore knows what it takes to get our attention. The way God gets our attention and brings us to a degree of humility is by manifesting His glory.

But are you ready for this: the thorn in the flesh is actually a manifestation of God's glory. If you pray for God to manifest Himself to you, you might say, "A thorn in the flesh is not exactly what I had in mind!" But there are many ways God shows up, both corporately and individually. Giving us a thorn is not the only way God manifests His glory, I am happy to say, but certainly this was one way in which He communicated with Paul and to each of us. See your own thorn as God's weighty stature in your life, the dignity of His will for you at this time.

As well as being a manifestation of God's glory, the thorn in the flesh is a severe form of chastening or disciplining. I will never forget my first introduction to the idea of being chastened. In that moment I felt an impulse to turn to Hebrews 12:6, which said, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (KJV).

This verse gave me some comfort, but the pain did not go away. It was my introduction—not to the thorn in the flesh—but to the subject of chastening. I knew God Himself was behind everything that was happening. I could live with that. Can you? Just to know that the whole thing is of God.

The thorn in the flesh, then, is from God, and it is a way of making us learn. Nothing else will work for us at the time. So God, who knows this, sends the thorn. It is not unlike what C. S. Lewis calls "severe mercy."

Excerpted from The Thorn in the Flesh (Charisma House, 2004).

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit