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What's my Thorn?

What's my Thorn?

Words of Faith 12-26-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 12

   [7] 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. [8] Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. [9] 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. [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.

 

       So that Paul would not forget that there is no boasting for the believer except in God, He gave Paul a constant reminder of his weakness, a thorn in the flesh. Countless explanations concerning the nature of his thorn in the flesh have been offered. They range from incessant temptation, or dogged opponents, to chronic maladies. Some have speculated the thorn may have been ophthalmia, malaria, migraine headaches, epilepsy, or disability in speech. No one can say for sure what his was, but it probably was a physical affliction.

       It is understandable that Paul would consider this thorn a hindrance to wider or more effective ministry and that he would repeatedly petition God for its removal. But he learned from this experience the lesson that pervades this letter, that the Divine power of God is best displayed against the backdrop of human weaknesses so that God alone is praised.

     Rather than removing the problem God gave him grace in it. This grace is sufficient. The Greek word means "a sense of providing contentment.” God's grace completely transformed Paul's perspective. Experiences in his ministry that he would naturally abhor he could welcome supernaturally because the evidence of Christ's power in the midst of them brought glory to Him, not Paul. When Paul came to the end of himself, Christ alone was seen. When he was weak, then Christ, by His strength, could make Paul spiritually strong.

       For most of us, this is a part of Paul that we desperately need to see because we feel weak far more often than we feel strong. We want to feel the power of God but we sometimes fail to realize that it is in our most difficult and trying season that we will see the most of God's power.

       This is a reflection of the image of Christ in Paul. Jesus chose to display the perfection of His nature and power in the form of frail human flesh. He became a suffering servant. He entered Jerusalem on a donkey rather than on a majestic horse. He finally overcame death by actually dying and the power of God was made manifest in the resurrection.

         For Paul, there was the actual backdrop of moral frailty that Jesus did not have. Jesuw was tempted in all things but He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). Paul was a human with the sins of humanity in him like you and me.

       The great encouragement in this text is in knowing that not all ailments will be delivered from us. Some "thorns in the side" are allowed by God and some suffering has a purpose only he knows. We do know that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

       So what is your thorn? It is really good that the Bible leaves this undefined. It could be a person or a tough relationship or a very difficult situation that is ongoing. It could be a malady or chronic illness. It is not a sin that we fall into repeatedly-- because such besetting or entangling sin is something we can be free from (Heb.12:1). But it could be a temptation or private struggle that we never feel free from even though we do not give in to it.

         Such a thorn we should submit to God until He releases us from praying about it. Paul was released from praying over this after three seasons of intense prayer. Your situation may be different. The wonderful thing to know and remember is that his power is going to very evident in your life if you are carrying a difficulty that will not go away.

 

       Father God, help me to see the real thorns in my life. Help me to see the real blessings too. Help me to know when to pray fervently and when to find peace. Help me to see Your power made perfect in my weakness. In Jesus' Name.