Thorns in the Flesh

Thorns in the flesh isn’t an easy translation from the Greek.  The original language has the idea of a torture stake and being pummeled with many blows.

What exactly does that thorn look like? That’s hard to say.  If use the Apostle Paul as an example it could have been anything from poor eyesight to malaria to extreme guilt.  I think that all of us have something that is “wrong”.  We live in a sinful world, clothed in sinful flesh, plagued by the devil who wants to see us fail.  What could go wrong?

Plenty!  In my brief ministry I have met people with chronic pain, chronic illness, and chronic guilt.  We haven

‘t touched on the people who have faced tragedy.  In our message we’ll look at a young man who’s hopes were dashed to play basketball in college and maybe even professionally.  God had other plans for him.

So what can we do when faced with a thorn?  Paul went to God in prayer three times.  That prayer is easy enough to say, it’s the answer from our God that can be troubling.  First, know that God promises to hear your prayer.  God first answer might be yes.  He tell us that he loves to answer our prayers, for Jesus’ sake.  His second answer might be yes, but not yet.  His third possible answer is similar to the second.  It is yes, but I’m not going to take the thorn away from you.  I’m going to take you away from the thorn, and this veil of tears.  That’s right, you’re going to heaven.

You might stop me and say, hang on… The last two answers sound an awful lot like no.  Well, maybe but with an eternal perspective, we all die and get to go to heaven.

The variation on the theme of the third answer – that of not taking your thorn from you – is that God will give you the strength to bear up under the pain.  This is the one that I am amazed at.  The gift of the divine to endure enormous suffering amazes me.

This all has to be buttoned up with a reminder that God isn’t punishing us with our thorns in the flesh.  God punished Jesus in our place.  All that’s left for us is a blessing.  Don’t believe me?  God proved his love for us in Jesus.

To hear more on the topic, check out this Sunday’s message taken from 2 Corinthians 12.

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