About Paul's Thorn?
Christians," I suggested last month, "have no
idea how to connect with the healing power of God"--and
itís no surprise, considering that our churches are
burdened with faith-destroying traditions.
Youíve heard them many times before: "God heals us
if it's His will to heal. If not, His will be done. God is
sovereign. Who are you to believe and trust for your healing
from a sovereign God? God's ways are not our ways. It may be
that our diseases are His will for us. . . ." Etc., etc.
In modern Christianity thereís never a shortage
of pious unbelief. And of all the Scriptures that are
distorted in the service of these paralyzing traditions, the
most abused is II Corinthians 12:7-9, "Paulís
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these
surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn
in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three
times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But
he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my
power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will
boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christ's power may rest on me. (NIV)
I am strong"
For too many generations this text has been
misused to poison the Body of Christ. Tradition has it that
God "sovereignly" decided it was better for Paul
to be sick than to get well.
But there's no evidence that Paulís thorn was a
disease! The phrase "thorn in the flesh" expresses
about the same idea as our modern "pain in the
neck," and the very next verse (12:10) makes clear what
the "thorn" consisted of:
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.
Paulís "thorns in the flesh" were these
insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties.
("Weak," by the way, translates a general term for
"helpless" or "impotent" in New
Testament Greek [asthenes], used only occasionally to
describe a physical defect.)
gets it exactly right
So what is actually being said in this Scripture?
The plain message of "Paul's thorn" is that
Godís grace and power are more than enough to deal with
anything the devil throws at us. The idea is essentially the
same as in Isaiah 53:4-5 (Amplified): "Surely He has
borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses)
and carried our sorrows and pains."
When we can't overcome an affliction in our own strength,
God overcomes it for us--and that applies not only to
"difficulties" of the kind Paul lists elsewhere in
II Corinthians (imprisonments, beatings, stonings,
shipwrecks, bandits, hunger, thirst) but to any other
"weakness" including illness.
In verse 12:10, then, Paul gets it exactly right. When
weíre weak in the flesh, weíre strong
in the Lord--and that, dear ones, is Good News!
forget that . . .
God should be our
resort, not our last resort. Start taking time
right now to build up the faith you need to
receive His healing.
God is ready to
heal us in every
physically, emotionally, and mentally.
God heals all
types of disease, pain, sorrow, and
infirmity. Nothing is too hard for Him.
us to be healed, to be "whole"
persons enjoying abundant life.
God expects us to
with Him in getting healedóthrough
medicine, diet, exercise, and straight thinking.
Everything that promotes healing is a gift from
Healing Briefs here