Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh: 3 Reasons to be Optimistic in Pain

There are many occasions when you pray to God to remove your “thorn in the flesh,” but He refuses to do it. Your initial reaction is to question God. However, you must remember that human intuition cannot comprehend God’s thoughts and actions (Isaiah 55:8-9.)

One probable reason why God refuses to take away your suffering is that most of your difficulties are consequences of your bad decisions. Your complete disregard for the Word of God is the primary reason you end up in bad situations (Proverbs 1:25-29.)

However, there are also times when God refuses to remove your suffering because He wants to protect you from drawing away from Him. This is precisely what happened to the Apostle Paul. He asked the Lord 3 times to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” But God had excellent reasons for refusing to end his suffering (2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)

What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?

Paul’s thorn in the flesh is not literal. He’s speaking metaphorically. It is uncertain what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but it caused him significant suffering.

It might have been a chronic illness, an eye problem, or even injuries he obtained from being persecuted. Some sources even suggest that it was a person who gave him a lot of trouble, like Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14.)

We’re not exactly sure what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. God might have wanted it to be described generally so that all of us could relate to Paul’s suffering. You may have physical, spiritual, or emotional thorns, but you can be sure God has a reason for your suffering.

God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh because He wanted him to stay humble.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

2 Corinthians 12:7

God allows you to go through suffering so that you will stay humble. God knows that pride is a more significant spiritual problem than any physical problem (James 4:6.) Dozens of Bible characters were destroyed by pride. Therefore, it is better to go through physical, financial, and material problems as long as you avoid the spiritual problem of pride.

You can be proud of yourself for many reasons. You can boast about your accomplishments, job, education, and many more. But God has given you difficulties that He refuses to remove to remind you to stay humble.

God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh because He wants him to depend on His grace.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul wanted God to remove his thorn in the flesh, but what Paul needed was the grace of God during his suffering. It is essential to understand that difficulties reveal our insufficiency. For instance, health problems show our physical weakness and financial incapacity. But God promised that His grace was sufficient. Therefore, whatever deficiency you have, God’s grace will be sufficient.

The word sufficient does not give you an exact amount or number. However, it gives the idea that whatever is lacking will be provided. As God’s grace is sufficient to save us, it is also sufficient to sustain us.

God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh because He wanted him to have a renewed outlook on life.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul learned to welcome problems instead of avoiding them because he knew it was an opportunity for Him to experience God’s grace. Most believers have a one-dimensional outlook on life. Like Job’s wife, they think they deserve God’s blessings.

9Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Job 2:9-10

Job’s wife is a picture of a person who worships God in times of blessings but curses God in times of problems. This is a dangerous attitude because it shows shallow spirituality, which means that their spirituality, worship, and service to God are based on temporal things. Just like the Hebrews in the wilderness, they rejoiced in getting out of Egypt but complained and wanted to return to Egypt when suffering came.

It would be best to have a renewed outlook on life as s believer. You don’t look for problems. But when it comes, you can be confident that God’s grace will sustain you.

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