Wanted: More Thorns

            In 2 Cor. 12:1-10 the Apostle Paul tells of what seems to be an out-of-body experience and God’s means of keeping him humble afterward.  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

            Paul doesn’t specify what his thorn in the flesh was, though many have suggested he may have had poor vision.  Whatever it was, this thorn kept him in check.  Notice that it wasn’t God’s will that Paul be healed of it.  So much for the ideas of the “Name it and claim it” crowd who say it’s not God’s will for believers to be sick or infirmed.  Remember that God’s purposes and ways are higher than ours.  God told Paul His grace was sufficient.  Paul would have to lean on Him all the more.  In fact, he even took pleasure in various troubles.  In doing so, he says his weakness is actually strength.  That’s because it’s Christ’s strength, not his own feeble strength.  Does that make any sense?  If not, meditate on the above passage and ask the Holy Spirit for enlightenment.  In the meantime, I hope I can share a small glimmer of light on the subject.

            The other day when reading 2 Cor. 12, my first thought was that many Christians, including many preachers, would do well to remember that we have the complete Word of God in the Scriptures.  We don’t need more visions and revelations.  If someone claims to have a revelation, word of knowledge, etc., it won’t contradict anything in the Word of God, if it is truly from God.  If it didn’t come via the Scriptures, then the conveyor of the alleged proclamation had better check the source.  Jesus repeatedly said He spoke only what the Father sent Him to say, and the Holy Spirit in turn would pass on what He received from Christ.

            Then I had another thought about thorns in the flesh.  They serve a purpose, and they shouldn’t be ignored.  Paul was forced to depend more on God’s grace and strength because of his thorn.  We would be foolish to disregard this example.  I myself have certain maladies that impose limits I don’t like. They and their associated problems can be quite frustrating.  Such things are a reminder of the reality that we live in a fallen, sin sick world.  Christians aren’t granted special immunity from that.

            Think about what your thorn(s) in the flesh might be.  Some are more obvious than others.  For example, what signals does your body send at certain times?  Do you have headaches or gut aches?  I contend with both.  They’ve required both medical attention and personal care.  If I get a gut ache, I have to ask myself some questions.  What did I eat that I shouldn’t have?  Have I been stressed out over something?  Was I obsessing over something I didn’t pray enough about?  What should I be avoiding, or what can I do differently now and in the future?  Notice what your body is telling you.  God may be trying to get your attention.  Remember, as Paul was told, His grace is sufficient.  Thorns serve His purposes.  Don’t ignore them.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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