A Thorn in the Flesh Can Make Us Stronger

In the Bible, we read about the Apostle Paul who mentions having a thorn in his flesh to torment him which was placed by a messenger of Satan.  Paul prayed to God to remove it and He chose not to do so and responded to Paul stating: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9).  We know that God extended grace to humanity, to include Paul, by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins that we may have salvation through repentance and expressed belief and faith in Jesus Christ.  I suppose someone having a “thorn in their flesh” would be a significantly minor affliction compared to what Jesus Christ experienced when he had nails driven through his hands and feet.

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As we read the rest of 2 Corinthians 12:9, we see that God tells Paul that his “power is made perfect in weakness.”   As we mortals have flawed humanistic qualities and weaknesses, sometimes in order to achieve success we must rely on God’s power and assistance.  We are often faced with battles and challenges that we are no match for but as we seek to do God’s will and complete the missions He has placed before us, we know that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). 

I often think of how the thorn in the flesh could be metaphorical for us regarding daily challenges and troubling times that we go through.  We can get out of bed each morning with plans to “take care of God’s lambs and sheep” and seek to keep Jesus first in our lives and Satan may place symbolic thorns in our flesh to weaken us.  The Bible tells us that the greatest threat for believers is not humanity but “dark forces” (Ephesians 6:10-17) representing Satanic influences which will battle us to prevent us from carrying out God’s will in our lives. 

As I consider the possibility that Satan may place metaphorical thorns in my flesh, I understand from reading the Bible this is plausible when Satan is worried that my actions may be a threat to him and his actions to counter God’s positive mission on earth.  As I sense a “thorn” is present, I should do what Jesus Christ did when he was tempted by Satan for forty days – recite and quote scripture back to Satan; knowing this, I need to spend much time in the “Word,” dwelling on it and committing it to memory.  The Bible also says that I should put on the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17) each day which will strengthen me and help to protect me regarding the devil’s schemes!  I should also “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) which is consistent with what I have learned about Jesus Christ in the Bible where I read about Him praying routinely and perhaps being continually in a spirit of prayer.

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As we read in 2 Corinthians about Paul being humbled and tormented by Satan (12:7), we also know that Paul was able to rebound by drawing his strength from Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13) which enabled him to become victorious with the mission God placed before him.  I wonder if Paul would have been as driven and motivated as he was as well as being successful in his ministry if he did not have the affliction (“thorn”) he had to contend with.  From a personal perspective, I know that I have to work harder when contending with personal torments (thorns), whether they be psychological or physical in nature. 

As I read in the book of James, the testing of our faith produces perseverance and as perseverance finishes its work we may be more complete and not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).  In consideration of these Biblical passages, I conclude that a thorn in my flesh will make me stronger and better able to do the work God has placed before me to do.  “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).  Thank you Lord for the strength that you provide when I have a thorn in my flesh!

Many blessings to you!

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