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adapted from the book
Quiet Talks on Prayer
by S.D. Gordon, 1904
The Best Light for Studying a Thorn 3

That is the man. Now for the thorn.
Something came into Paul's life that was a constant irritation. He calls it a thorn. What a graphic word! A sharp point prodding into his flesh, ever prodding, sticking. sticking in; asleep, awake, stitching tent canvas, preaching, writing, that thing ever cutting its point into his sensitive flesh.

It did not disturb him so much at first, because there was God to go to. He went to God and said, "Please take this away." But it stayed and stuck.
A second time the prayer; a bit more urgent; the thing sticks so. The time test is the hardest test of all. Still no change.
Then praying the third time with what earnestness one can well imagine.

Now note three things:
First, There was an answer. God answered the man. Though He did not grant the petition, He answered the man. He did not ignore him nor his request.

Then God told Paul frankly that it was not best to take the thorn away. It was in the lonely vigil of a sleepless night, likely as not, that the wondrous Jesus-Spirit drew near to Paul. Inaudibly to outer ear but very plainly to his inner ear, He spoke in tones modulated into tender softness as of dearest friend talking with dear friend.

"Paul," the voice said, "I know about that thorn - and how it hurts - it hurts Me, too.
For your sake, I would quickly, so quickly remove it. But Paul" - and the voice becomes still softer - "it is a bit better for others' sake that it remain: the plan in My heart through you for thousands, yes, unnumbered thousands, Paul, can so best be worked out."

That was the first part of what He said.
And Paul lies thinking with a deep tinge of awe over his spirit.

Then after a bit in yet quieter voice He went on to say,
"I will be so close to your side; you shall have such revelations of My glory that the pain will be clear overlapped, Paul; the glory shall outstrip the eating thorn point."