When Pain is Personal

25 08 2012

It’s painful even thinking about it, yet it was a gift given to the Apostle Paul.  It was given to keep him from that awful and ugly sin of pride.  It was a “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7).  It was delivered by Satan, no doubt wanting to use it to his advantage.  Paul found that this “messenger of Satan” was really a method of grace.  It was “in the flesh” (concerning our physical body).  Through it, Satan “buffeted” Paul (literally, “to  strike with a fist”).  I get the idea of longevity of pain.  Picture a thorn in your body with someone striking it with their fist over and over again.

So, what is this thorn in the flesh that Paul could not shake off or ignore?  Some say it was epilepsy and a steady bombardment of seizures caused by the stoning in Acts 14.  Some say it is poor eyesight to which he admits in Galatians 6:11.  We don’t know exactly what his thorn was, but that’s good!  We could put our own thorn on the dotted line.

      We react in three ways. . .

            1.      Guilt – “What did I do to deserve this?

            2.      Discouragement – “It this what my life has come to?”

            3.      Disappointment – “Why is God doing this?”

You live right, go to church, read the Bible, treat others fairly; then you are given a thorn in the flesh.  Is God cruel or is there perhaps a bigger picture?

Paul prayed three times for God to remove the thorn (II Corinthians 12:8).  It was a legitimate prayer.  Even Jesus prayed three times for the suffering of the cross to be removed (Matthew 26:36-46). Usually, while suffering, we pray with more passion because pain is very personal.  I have heard that God answers prayer in three ways: Yes, no, and wait.  That is not entirely true.  Sometimes He refuses to answer our prayer so that He could give us something better.  Sometimes He answers in a way that is exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

2Co 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Physical relief never came.  His infirmity (whatever it was) remained.  What now?  God’s reply to Paul’s pain is profound.

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