How To Cope With A Humbling Thorn In The Flesh

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“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

2 Corinthians 12-7b/NIV

We will go through seasons in life where adversity visits us even though we did nothing to deserve this! We may be doing all the right things, yet pain and misery occur, and we are left to figure out how to deal with the problem and survive. Sometimes the adversity we are faced with involves problems of other people, and we are there to help them. Sometimes the problems never go away, and we are left wondering why. Unfortunately, much like Paul, we too may experience a thorn in our flesh that does not go away.

Upon review of 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of an incredible vision involving a man caught up in “paradise” and heard inexpressible things that no one was permitted to talk about with others. Theologians believe this person to be Paul. Instead of boasting about this occurrence, Paul chooses to boast about his weaknesses. Paul mentions a weakness he had involving a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. He tells us a “messenger from Satan” gave him the thorn in his flesh to torment and humble him. 

Biblical scholars are not confident about what the “thorn” might have been regarding Paul’s affliction. One theologian speculated that it might involve a problem with Paul’s vision. Paul prayed to the Lord three times for this thorn to be removed: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8/NIV). Paul’s desire was not granted, and the response he received was interesting: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a/NIV). Paul was allowed to endure in his weakness to reflect Jesus Christ’s power!

Paul expresses awareness that the power he had in his ministry as a follower of Jesus Christ was not his own. Paul expressed where his strength came from, which enabled him to provide his ministry: “I can do all this through Him (Jesus Christ) who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13/NIV). Paul lets us know that he is “weak,” and his strength comes from his Lord: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b/NIV). Even though Paul is weak in his human form, he acknowledges his strength in Jesus Christ: “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” (2 Corinthians 12:10/NIV). 

Self-reflection consideration: As I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I am strong, enabling me to do all things through Him.

Many blessings to you.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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