Do You Have a Thorn in the Flesh?

Do you have a thorn in the flesh? Before answering there are some things to consider.

The Apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh.” What it was is not specifically identified. It remains a mystery. But its meaning is clearly identified.

First, speculation regarding what it was ranges from a specific temptation, a chronic eye problem, malaria, migraines, epilepsy, and a speech disability. Some even say that the thorn refers to a person, such as Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul “a great deal of harm” (II Timothy 4:14). It may not have been any of those.

To get the real meaning of its importance consider its purpose. By gaining that insight you can decide if you have a “thorn” with a like minded purpose.

Paul clues us in concerning the thorn’s purpose: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” So, God’s goal in allowing the thorn in the flesh was to keep Paul humble. Anyone who had encountered Jesus and was commissioned personally by Him (Acts 9:2-8) would, in his natural state, become “puffed up.” Add to that the fact that Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament, and it is easy to see how Paul could become “haughty” (KJV) or “exalted above measure” (NKJV) or “too proud” (NCV).

Is your “thorn” serving to help you avoid false pride? Is it aiding you in avoiding robbing God of His glory?

Another purpose of Paul’s thorn was that it came from or by a “messenger of Satan.” Just as God allowed Satan to torment Job (Job 1:1-12), God allowed Satan to torment Paul for God’s own good purpose.

Is God allowing Satan to implant a “thorn” in your life that requires patience and dependence on Him? If you conclude He is, that should motivate you all the more to deal with it and so defeat Satan and give you confidence in the Lord.

No one wants to live with a “thorn” in their life. Paul surely didn’t. Three times Paul asked that it be removed (II Corinthians 12: 8). Who wouldn’t?

Paul might have offered God a litany of reasons he could do more without the thorn. Instead of removing the problem, whatever it was, God gave Paul more overwhelming grace and more compensating strength. Paul learned that God’s “power is made perfect Whether the “thorn” in your flesh today is physical, emotional, or spiritual, we can know that God has a purpose and that His grace is all-sufficient  in weakness” (verse 9).

The exact nature of Paul’s thorn in the flesh remains unknown. Its purpose is clear as is God’s grace.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12: 9)