A Thorn in The Flesh

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Several of the writers from Holy Hen House, together with other local women, meet together weekly in each others’ homes for Bible study. Lately, we have been going through Apostle Paul’s letters that he wrote to early Christians. I find Paul to be a pretty fascinating guy and an exceptionally inspiring Christian. Once a Christ HATER, Paul, in his early years called Saul, went so far as to oversee the deaths of early Christians. Then he underwent an incredible conversion during which he was blinded by a vision of God for three days. Following his conversation, Paul became one of the most inspirational Christians of all time, and eventually wrote several letters that became books of the Bible. Pretty incredible.

For those of you who have read Paul’s story, do you ever wonder what his “thorn” was? In 2 Corinthians 12: 7 Paul writes:

“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. 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.”

Paul never writes what his “thorn” actually is, although many people have theorized that it was anything from malaria, to epilepsy, to a disease of the eyes. What we do know is that Paul’s thorn was a chronic and debilitating problem, that he had repeatedly asked God to take it away from him, and that God said NO. In fact, God further said that His “power is made perfect in weakness.” He had a plan; Paul’s thorn would show Paul and others God’s power.

I would love to go back in time and see how this actually played out. Crippled by his thorn, Paul could not boast of his own strength. All glory and power went to God instead of to Paul. Without his thorn, Paul may have been tempted to attribute his power to do miracles to his own strength or ability. He may have gathered a following that wanted to worship him instead of God. Or worse, he may have lost all credibility. I can only imagine that Paul’s humility and trust in God despite his thorn inspired people and encouraged them to learn more about the God that Paul worshipped. Paul’s thorn kept him humble and likely moved others to glorify God.

God’s power is still made perfect in our weaknesses today. I think of some of the most inspiring Christians I know and almost all of them have lived through some terrible hardship. Anyone who has a great and easy life can say they love Jesus, but it’s only through hardship that this love is put to the test. Those who endure a “thorn in their flesh” and still proclaim the power and love and glory of Christ are endlessly inspiring to myself and to other Christians. God’s power is made all the more evident through them.

Are you suffering from a thorn in your flesh this morning? Have you asked God to remove a chronic and debilitating problem from you, and he keeps saying NO? It could be God is allowing the thorn to remain in your flesh in order to draw you and others closer to Him. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Have you seen this play out in your life? I would love to hear your stories!

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