And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, (to beat as a punching bag) lest I should be exalted above measure. II Corinthians 12:7
One of our faithful men was discussing with our group the other night his battle with anger which manifested in the form of rage and profanity. He also said he felt dry and didn't "feel" God anymore because of his "Thorn in his flesh!"
In my weekly devotionals on God's love and the fact that it is not an emotional response toward us, but an act or deed of affection and not a feeling as many suppose, we must look at the "Thorn in the flesh." Paul was given one to keep him from boasting about his revelations and it has been argued throughout history what his thorn was, some believed it was a disease or affliction in his eyes, no matter, to him it was a nuisance that kept him humble.
God's thoughts toward us are so much higher than ours and throughout our spiritual journey He works in our behalf to make us into instruments of righteousness, vessels of honor and even supernatural weapons of spiritual warfare. In order for God to perfect us and make us spiritually strong He must remove all pride and any deed or work of our flesh that would exalt us or cause us to believe in our own ability rather than surrendering our lives into His capable hands.
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." II Corinthians 12:9
I believe the apostle Paul understood completely why he had this thorn in his flesh and that it was not going to leave even though he pleaded with God to remove it. This would not be accepted in most Charismatic circles today because of all the prosperity teaching and the success, health and wealth preaching that leads the unsuspecting into a tailspin when they experience anything bad in their lives that God meant for good. Thorns, although seemingly bad and unpleasant are put there to make us strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might and not ours.
Over the years I have experienced several thorns and various trials and usually didn't understand why they were there and squealed like a pig all the while God was doing a work of grace in me for my good. I never understood the scripture in Peter that exhorts us to rejoice in trials and tribulations until recently when He gave me revelation that when we don't feel His presence and all Hell is breaking out around us, know this: God is working a work of grace in you to perfect you and complete the work He has begun in you to make you more like Him! It is like the person who questioned the silversmith burning the impurities and dross out of the precious metal saying, "How do you know when it is ready and he said, "When I can see my image in it!"
When dealing with a thorn in your flesh and especially if you are in ministry, praying for the sick, casting out demons and preaching, it can be hard when you are sick or have a loved one sick and the devil constantly tells you that God doesn't love you anymore or He's done with you, or your sin is just to great for Him to forgive. Nonsense, rejoice and be glad because He's just doing a lasting work of grace on a chosen vessel of His, so tell the devil to take a hike and give God glory because of His great love for you!
Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12:9,10
Your servant in Christ, Tim Laughlin