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