In 2 Corinthians 12:7, 8 it tells us Paul had a thorn in his flesh but there is no specific answer to its source. There were several speculations surrounding the issue of uncertainty as to what was the thorn. The assumption was it could have been an illness such as malaria or epilepsy or a disease of the eyes (Gal 4:13-15). Some assumed it may have had to do with a spiritual, emotional affliction or problem. Whatever the case may be, the assumption is there was a debilitating condition that rendered Paul, at times, flawed in his weakness.
It was a chronic, debilitating problem that at times, got in the way of Paul being able to do his work. It was a hindrance to his ministry. Yet he sought God for healing. He prayed three times to God to remove it. God refused. Still Paul trusted God even though his problem had not been removed. God did not remove his physical affliction. Instead God healed Paul’s spiritual condition.
From what I learned in my Bible reading, Paul never received physical healing like he asked. But in the midst of his suffering what he did get from God was something far greater than that. He received “grace, a stronger character, humility, and an ability to empathize with others” (2 Co 12:7, 8). Even though the thorn seemed difficult for him, he continued in his ministry to reach others with the gospel. Paul didn’t let a thorn stop him. It benefited others around him. Others were able to see God at work. In his infirmities, Paul continued his work.
Paul was not prideful. He may have been weak physically, but he was able to build his character and rely on God’s strength. How awesome was it that God could take a person who couldn’t find physical healing and suffered in weakness and use him for his glory through his strength. Who could ask for much more than that? What a blessing!
Paul’s experience was a chronic problem from an unknown source that could have been emotional, physical, or spiritual. What if this was to happen to you? What if you were in Paul’s predicament? What if you couldn’t see your way through the pain or trouble, would a thorn in your flesh be difficult? How would you be deal with it? What if you suffered from a number of limitations or physical illnesses? Yet still desired to do the work of the Lord? And be a witness to the world in showing them through you, the power of Almighty God. Would you do the work you’re called to do? Or would you let a thorn in your flesh stop you?
For me, as a person who suffer from chronic pain, I find that a thorn in the flesh speaks emotionally, physically, and spiritually to my pain. Out of problems I encounter, not spiritually, but based on my physical and emotional suffering. At times I find it bothersome and troubling. Wishing somehow, like Paul that it be removed. Regardless, I still manage to give God glory no matter what I go through. I am called to do the work of the Lord. I will gladly serve God.
Healing may not come in the form we wish. Yet we must learn how to glorify God in spite of it. In our afflictions we must never fail to thank God even when there are times we may feel the same way as Paul. Especially when faced with problems that leave us confused, riddled with pain, or a lack of strength to go on. At that time, admit to God your weaknesses. It will affirm God’s strength even if he doesn’t heal your physical ailment. It will deepen your relationship with Him. You will develop character too. Paul was living proof.
Recognize through your limitations God can use you. Pray, believe, and trust God when you’re going through. Rely on God’s power for effectiveness and not on your own. Turn to God and seek help that you may be effective to do God’s work assured you are not alone. Remember Paul. Use his example for assurance. He showed us that holy living and courageous faith do not ensure instant physical healing. But what was most important is he received spiritual healing. It may not be physically. God will heal you spiritually.
Trouble, hardships, trials, and tribulations should never drive you away from God. Your spiritual condition is far more important than your physical condition to God. Just as God was able to demonstrate his power in Paul, he can do the same for you. Don’t quit. Even in your affliction, you can minister to others and comfort those who may suffer just as God comforts you.
What would you do, if A THORN IN YOUR FLESH was as difficult as Paul’s? Will a thorn in your flesh stop you from doing the work of the Lord? I’ve learned, “Nothing must separate you from God’s love. No matter what your thorn in the flesh may be, believe and trust God. For His power is made perfect in weakness. Trust in God. His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:8).”
Be blessed! -JD
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you; 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 in me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”