Thorn in the Flesh by Eddie Foster

II Corinthians 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 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. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 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. 10 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.

There has always been speculation over what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. We don’t know because the Bible doesn’t tell us.  Some think the thorn was pride. These verses tell us that Paul saw things he couldn’t mention. It would have been easy for pride to enter his heart. Verse 7 addresses it. We probably couldn’t have waited to tell it, but God wouldn’t let him tell.  Others think the Jews were Paul’s thorn. If you look back at his life, the Jews were always a problem for him; they were against his stand for Christ. Some think it was his wife. I don’t personally believe Paul was married at this time. He probably was at one time, but not now.

Paul’s thorn was physical–in the flesh. Again we see this in verse 7. He suffered physically, mentally, and spiritually.  He was a traveling preacher. He made tents during the day and preached at night. When any of us is down and out the devil buffets us.  Paul asked three times for the thorn to be removed yet it remained.  Do we conclude from this that his prayer was unanswered?  Is “no” an answer to prayer?  I used to get “no” from my dad growing up.  It is an answer. So there is no unanswered prayer. God knows what we need and will work things out for our good.  Once Paul accepted God’s will his attitude changed.

It’s not wrong to pray for healing, but after a time maybe we should accept it and go on.  Is it God’s will for all to be healed?  No.  While there is an ultimate healing for the child of God, sometimes our prayers for healing don’t result in it in this life.  No one has perfect healing till the coming of the Lord.  Being healed of one thing still means that you’ll die.  Freedom from sin is in the atonement, but it won’t be completed till the rapture. We all fail now. When Jesus comes the sin question will be settled once and for all. We’ll see the face of our Savior. On that day we’ll live and not sin again. There will be no more battles to face. I’m forgiven now but in glory sin will be eradicated.

Why the thorn?  It was to keep Paul humble.  Philippians 3:4 says Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. Paul had the best schooling; he was cultured. There would have been a tendency in most to get puffed up. The thorn kept Paul un-puffed. God reminds us we’re nothing without him.  But verse 9 reminds us God’s grace is sufficient; it will get us through, whatever we face.  Fanny Crosby was blind but wrote more church hymns than any other author. She found God’s grace sufficient. In the hour of discouragement, God is there. Trust him. In the hour of temptation, God is there. We can’t defeat the devil but Jesus already has. In the hour of sin, God is there. Confess it and he’ll forgive us. Don’t rationalize it; just confess.  In the hour of death, God is there. There is no record that Paul ever got out of that Roman prison. Historians say his head was chopped off. How did Paul face this?  He said For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (II Timothy 4)

He found God’s grace sufficient all the way to his death.  We can too.  Trust God in all things and keep moving on.

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