Song of Songs 1-3 2 Corinthians 12
What is that “thorn in the flesh” for Paul? (2Cor 12:7) Nobody knows. One thing for sure, though, it is something that was causing great pains in him, so much so that Paul asked God three times to remove it (12:8). God did not grant his wish, though.
It could be something physical. After all, illnesses that cause great pain or intense worry could be debilitating for anyone. I still remember my only experience of being admitted to the emergency room of a hospital, and it was not pleasant. Even though I did not have any serious pain, the uncertainty of the reason of my irregular heartbeat caused great concerns in my mind. Besides, lying helplessly on a hospital bed hearing the constant beeping sound of the monitors did not help to calm my nerve. I had a taste of what it means to be weak, and I can’t imagine for anyone to deal with that feeling in a long-term basis.
It could also be something spiritual. After he had gone through so many afflictions (11:23-27), it’s hard for me think that Paul would be complaining about physical pains. On the other hand, some spiritual accusations as “messenger of Satan” could be paralyzing for a person who was highly esteemed by others. Physical weaknesses may be hard to deal with, but spiritual weaknesses that attack the foundation of our faith are even harder to face.
It matters little whether it’s physical or spiritual, for it was sent for the purpose of keeping Paul from being conceited (12:7). The thorn was sent for a positive purpose. In other words, it was under God’s control. Just as Christ was crucified in weakness (13:4), yet such weakness actually caused the great power of resurrection to be released (13:3). Weakness has the strange effect of clearing our mind and our sight, so that we may think more straightly and see more clearly. As a result, we may acknowledge our weaknesses and, consequently, allow God’s sufficient grace to be poured into our lives (12:9).
Maybe you are going through great suffering or uncertainty at this moment, and God’s promised peace seems nowhere to be found. See it as a controlled attack from the Evil, while God himself is holding the leash. It is a golden opportunity for you to acknowledge your weaknesses, so that God’s power and grace can flow freely into your life through this situation.
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