2 Corinthians 12:1-11
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.
11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
I have counseled many believers who claim that God has given them a thorn in the flesh. They speak of their chronic back pain or their various disabilities of body or mind as God’s way of keeping them humble. Through these testimonies, it appears that God is always switching sides; one minute fighting for us while the next minute, fighting against us. Rest assured your Father is better than that!
Paul states that he was given “a thorn in the flesh”, but does not tell us what that thorn is (2 Corinthians 12:7). While he never gives details about this thorn, he does however tell us more than is usually preached from this passage. He specifically describes his thorn in the flesh as being “the messenger of Satan to buffet me”. Messengers deliver messages which should be obvious. This takes away the possibility that Paul’s thorn was bodily weakness or repulsive appearance or poor vision as many commentators have claimed.
A messenger of Satan came against Paul “lest I should be exalted above measure”, which indicates that Paul viewed what the enemy was saying against him as a way to remain humble in spite of all of his previous revelations (verses 1-6). Paul does not blame the thorn on God, but gives God glory, seeing that God can teach us valuable lessons even when Satan is the one delivering the message.
After having sought God for deliverance from the stinging words of this messenger, Christ says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).God’s promise is that for every message that the enemy delivers to Paul to weaken him, God will offer an abundance of grace to counter it. The more that Paul is attacked; the more that God pours in His grace. This causes Paul to “gladly therefore…glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (verse 9).
Once Paul has seen how powerful that God’s grace is in his weakest hour, he welcomes the weak hour! He is so excited about persecutions and distresses that he says, “I am become a fool in glorying” (verse 11). In other words, “It is ridiculous how much grace and favor is coming my way whenever the enemy attacks. Because of this, I welcome the attacks and people think I’m crazy!”
Do you have a thorn in the flesh? It is quite possible, but let’s identify it correctly instead of slapping that label onto something that it is not. Your sicknesses and diseases have been paid for in the body of Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:17), so God CANNOT take sicknesses off of Jesus and put them onto you to teach you a lesson. He loves you more than you love your own children, and even in their worst moments, would you wish cancers and tumors onto them?
Perhaps there are attacks that continue to be leveled against you causing you to cling ever tighter to God’s grace. This may very well be a thorn in the flesh, sent by the enemy to torment you, but God is turning it into a beautiful opportunity to both teach and prosper. As soon as you see it for what it is, the door to taking pleasure in the moment is opened to you and you are ready to say, “when I am weak, then am I strong” (verse 10).
There is no need to ask for a thorn in the flesh, Satan will find you eventually. When it arrives, be prepared for God’s abundant grace to be even more evident in