To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me 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, my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Throughout the centuries Biblical scholars far smarter than I am have considered what Paul may have been talking about when he spoke of a thorn in his flesh. Some have theorized it was a physical infirmity such as a headache or illness. Others were sure it was a spiritual or fleshly temptation. Some assumed it to be his adversaries. But no one knows for sure because the Holy Spirit did not inspire Paul to tell us. I wonder why. Could it be because the point was not what was wrong with Paul, but that something was? Could it be because generations later, when we meditate on this passage of Scripture, God wanted us to know that it applies to us no matter what our own “thorn in the flesh” may be? Had Paul specified here that he was speaking of his own lustful thoughts would we have skimmed over this passage if that was not an area we were personally struggling with? Or had he indicated that he was speaking of chronic headaches or a recurring illness would we, if blessed with good health, have assumed this concept was only for sick people?
I am not a theologian but I know that God desires for me to gain insight into his plan and purpose for my life and for his kingdom in his Word. I know when I come across a passage of Scripture like this, I am supposed to reflect on how God wants me to apply it in my life.
We all have our own “thorn in the flesh”. The list of possible thorns is far longer than the conjectures of historians. We all have things going on in our lives that God will use to accomplish his purpose. And quite frankly, our own thorns will likely change throughout the seasons of our life. But the point we must not miss is what Paul learned from his thorn. As he pleaded with God to take it away, the comfort God gave him was not in relief but in the promise that his grace is sufficient and his power is perfect. Whatever “thorn” we may be dealing with, we have to ask ourself a very important question. Are we going to allow Satan to have it to cause us torment and grief or are we going to trust God with it to bring about his glory?
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so,that Christ’s power may rest on me. I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, the I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10