“A Thorn in the Flesh”

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger from satan to harass me to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, calamities and persecutions.  For when I am weak then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

Ever since I became a Christian I have wondered about this passage.  I questioned my seminary professors, I listened to many preachers’ interpretation of this passage.  I’ve read commentaries and scholarly articles that attempt to pick apart this passage.  Apparently, Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is quite a popular topic of conversation in Christian circles.  There have been many hypothesis regarding the identity of the “thorn.” The overwhelming response…no one knows.  We cannot specifically identify the thorn.

What is the thorn in your flesh? We all have one. That nagging challenge, situation, mind-set, SIN, that besets you.   Mine nags me when I’m at work, when I’m with clients, when I’m with my family, when I sleep it comes out in my dreams and when I’m at church.  It is ALWAYS there.  Not always in the forefront of my mind but in the background.  It seems to cause thoughts to pop in my head that are not positive or Godly and compels me to participate in an emotional spiral that lands me in the depression pit.

What can be done about this thorn?  I have recently come to the conclusion that I have been living under a lie.  I have believed that God should fix all my problems.  That is a lie straight from the pit.  He has the ability to fix to my problems and I should definitely pray to Him and rely on Him in the midst of my problems, but there is nothing in Scripture that says he HAS to fix all my problems.

We need to counteract this lie with several truths. (from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her book Lies Women Believe)

Truth #1:  God is more concerned about glorifying Himself and changing me than about solving my problems.  (2 Corinthians 4:17) Life is going to be hard.  Scripture says “you will have trials.” Changing yourself is difficult and takes time.  We live in a society of quick fixes.  Hungry, there’s fast food, have a headache, take a Tylenol, need to cook dinner on the fly, pop something in the microwave, need to lose 20 pounds, take a pill, have surgery.  We are all looking for the band-aid but the truth is we have a gaping, oozing wound and a little bandage only covers it up.

Truth #2: God wants to use my problems as part of His sanctifying process in my life.  (Job 23:10) God uses our problems to mold and shape us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is only when we internalize this truth that we will experience that “peace that surpasses all understanding” even in the midst of our circumstances.

Truth #3: No matter what problem I am facing, God’s grace is sufficient for me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)  We want God to wave His magic wand and fix all our problems. Truth is, God is using your problems to make you stronger, more like Him  and to reveal His power to the world in the middle of your weaknesses.

It is time to reframe our thinking and look at our problems as opportunities.  The opportunity to reveal Christ to a hurting world.  THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!!!!!

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3 thoughts on ““A Thorn in the Flesh”

  1. Indeed, I suspect that the troubles God allows a person to experience afford him opportunities to grow spiritually in the precise ways he needs to grow in order to remain on the narrow way to eternal life (Mt 7:14). And, as you point out, He always supplies sufficient grace to effectively respond to these troubles, for He desires that we be saved (1 Tm 2:4). God bless!

  2. Oh how we try to make our little piece of heaven on earth and have our Brady bunch moments of hearth and home. We work ourselves to the bone for just a little more that we wont keep. We’re all trying to catch up to some dream of being OK for a little while only to find a new problem dawning or the freind you thought you had betraying you. The past hurts always a pin prick away from the surface with vivid mental pictures to remind us and relive the past at a moments notice. His life was sacrifice and poverty yet He changed the world. Heavens coming but is not yet here. To embrace the sufferings is to join in the fellowship of His sufferings and to become more like Him, then we will have a true view of this time on earth and not expect the heaven that is not here but rejoice in the real one to come. I LONG to be home, but hope to make a difference before I go. Sadly the times are getting more evil than most know and great hurt and surprise is about to befall the willingly ignorant to discover that what they held on to was all a myth and a fantasy. Only one life will soon be past, only whats done for Christ will last!!!

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