V RaptureChrist Newsletter
February 1, 2011

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

Paul said he had a thorn in the flesh. What could this be?

When you have a thorn in your flesh you have to be careful not to irritate it more. It hurts a lot when you move. However, it does not hurt that much when you are still. This is like a constant pain that does not go away. However, if you are busy doing something you may forget about it for a while.  Then it comes flooding back to annoy you. 

People live years in constant pain. In fact, pain is your constant companion. Pain can make you angry all the time and snappy.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given 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.

Being in constant pain reminds us that all is not well. It also helps draw us closer to God. 

Paul is correct in what he says. However, the devil enjoys making us suffer. Yes, even if that draws us closer to God.

Satan believes that if the pain is strong enough we will eventually hate God. This is what the Devil wants for us.

However, in fact, it has the opposite effect. It is through our pain that we realize how much God loves us. That seems like a paradox, but people rarely seek God when all is well. Instead they call upon him when they have problems.

Paul asked God three times to remove this "thorn" from him.  But God answered that His grace was sufficient -- sufficient to help him endure.  That is why Paul realized later on, that pain, difficulties and hardships helps us become strong in the Lord.  In those moments when all is not well, we draw strength from God.  We become winners and overcomers.

Rejoice in Weakness

We should rejoice in our weakness. Paul said that he delights in weaknesses. Does that mean a weak character that cannot say no? For example, a girl who cannot say no to her boyfriend so she becomes pregnant? Actually, this is a moral weakness. That is not the type of weakness Paul is talking about.

The original word in Greek for weakness means "no strength" -- like a problem beyond your ability to solve.

2 Corinthians 12:10
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.

Paul suffered a lot in his life. It was these troubles that refined him like gold. He emerged from the fire a stronger man. He realized that the only thing he could boast in was his weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 11:21-28
To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

It is not good to boast of how great we are. Our strength is not ours, but comes from Jesus.

2 Corinthians 11:30
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

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