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Thorn in My Flesh
by John Okulski
08/11/04
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Did you ever wonder what Paul's "thorn in my flesh" really was? Many Christians teach that it has something to do with a physical ailment; my Bible commentary suggests it may have to do with poor eyesight...see with what large letters I write this, Paul wrote in another letter.

Yet, I've never been able to buy that explanation. It always seemed to me that it referred to some sort of recurring sin. Indeed, the passage itself lends credence to that belief. The thorn in his flesh is described in 2 Corinthians 12:7 also as a "messenger of Satan." Presumably, that refers to fallen angel of some kind, perhaps one that's tormenting him with a particular sin or temptation that he has fallen victim to often through his "weakness." Whether that sin was anger, lust, laziness, lack of perseverance, lack of trust, greed, whatever, it always seemed to me that some particular sin was the cause of Paul's anguish.

Can you identify with that particular explanation of the "thorn in my flesh"? Have you struggled with one or more particular sins, praying to God that they be removed? I know I have. Several commonly afflict me with one perhaps standing out above all the rest, though I must say a few others do not lag far behind. Should I become too confident of my own righteousness, God often permits one of those messengers of Satan to afflict me.

The key, though, is how I respond to the affliction, for whether or not God permits these things to occur, I'm still held accountable for my sins. Also, should I triumph to whom do I give credit? Do I boast in my strength to overcome the devil, or do I boast in the Lord for His strength to be revealed through my weakness? Can I say, with Paul, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Too often, I do not, but God is still faithful.


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