MGHM Healing Brief, 7/09

What About Paul's Thorn?

"Most 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.

Pious unbelief

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 thorn":

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)

"Then 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.)

Paul 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!

                                                                                     óMary Graff  

Don't forget that . . .

God should be our first 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 wayóspiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

God heals all types of disease, pain, sorrow, and infirmity. Nothing is too hard for Him.

God wants us to be healed, to be "whole" persons enjoying abundant life.

God expects us to cooperate with Him in getting healedóthrough medicine, diet, exercise, and straight thinking. Everything that promotes healing is a gift from Him.

Printable version here

More Healing Briefs here

"God's Word Brings Our Healing"