Thorns in the Flesh By Michael Pink

“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. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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. 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 Cor. 12:7-10)

The purpose of this blog is more about equipping believers to succeed in the marketplace than anything else. From my perspective, it is hard to succeed in the marketplace when we’re broke or when we are sick, so I address these topics from time to time to give my understanding of a Biblical way to walk out our faith in the marketplace. Lately, we’ve been discussing the subject of healing and whether it’s God’s will to heal or not. I maintain that it is God’s will to heal every time, but not all are healed. Why? For the same reason that it’s God’s will that none should perish, but some do. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil and give us eternal life. He said that whoever would believe on Him would have that eternal life. He offers salvation to us all. Many reject it and perish. It is not God’s will (2 Peter 3:9) but many do perish. He also offers healing to us all and many will argue till their dying day that healing is not for everyone. I say, be it unto you, according to your faith. I have no issue with those who disagree. Walk in the revelation you have. You will be known by your fruit, as am I.

One question that came up a fair bit was, What about Paul’s thorn in the flesh? What does Scripture say? “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me”. Seems pretty clear… His thorn in the flesh was a messenger, not of God, but of Satan, sent to buffet him. The thorn in the flesh term was a common usage term in the Old Testament to describe ungodly people who afflict you. For example, Num 33:55 says in part, “But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which you let remain of them, shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein you dwell.” (See also Josh 23:13, Judges 2:3) So I believe the thorn in the flesh was sent by Satan to persecute Paul for preaching the gospel.Ê He asked the Lord to remove that persecution, but we aren’t redeemed from persecution, so he was told that God’s grace was sufficient. As Paul later said, “All that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12) Paul goes on to explain that he would rather glory in his infirmities, which is a word that means weaknesses, but can and sometimes also mean sickness. (In Romans 8:26, Paul explained that the Spirit helps our infirmities which was referring to our weakness in not knowing how to pray and later he told Timothy to use a little wine for his frequent infirmities which was clearly sickness.) Paul took pleasure in his weaknesses because he discovered that when he was weak, he became strong by God’s power. How was he made strong in weakness? It was by the grace which was sufficient for him. What is grace? It is God’s enabling power working in and through us helping us do what we could never do in our own strength.

Paul wanted to be delivered from persecution, but God gave him grace to go through it. The results were so astounding that he said he would rather glory in his weaknesses because that is when he experienced the power of Christ most profoundly! Some argue that Paul had an eye condition because some folks loved him enough to pluck out their eyes for him. Well, I’d give my right arm to do some things, but please don’t take that literally. It’s an expression meant to appropriate high value. If anything, the Galatians who made this comment about his eyes were the same folks who first saw Paul after he had been whipped, beaten, buried under a pile of stones and left for dead. When everyone went home, he was revived and walked 20 miles to a town in Galatia. I’m guessing he still looked pretty beat up! Betcha he had a black eye or two also, but I speculate. By the way, I am not suggesting Paul never got sick. In fact, in Galatians 4:13-15 he said, “You know how throughinfirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first… for I bear record that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.” He may have been sick or this might have referred to his weakened condition after being beat up and stoned to death (or near death). Either way, it was only at the beginning… Paul recovered and went on to do many great things.

Some maintain that there were folks healed in the Bible who did not have faith. That is true, especially those dead folks that Jesus raised up! (o-: But guess what? Jesus had the faith and He healed them. There were some folks born blind and God got glory from healing them. He did not get glory by sitting them down and explaining a lesson to them. He healed them. Some came to Jesus with faith and others didn’t know who He was, but Jesus healed them. He never sat them down and explained to them that this sickness, disease or malady was God’s way of teaching them a lesson. There were some born with imperfections. We live in a fallen world with weakened immune systems, damaged DNA, harsh environmental factors, etc. Some come out of the womb broken or incomplete. My first child was born with Down Syndrome so I am not unacquainted with this. What is God’s response as demonstrated by Jesus? He healed every malady, from deformed hands and arms to blind eyes, to sickness, etc. He turned no one away. So God made every one of us, including the deaf, dumb, blind, etc. But before the fall, it was not so. People were not born defective. The fall wreaked havoc on creation and it groans to this day waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. Selah.

But Christ came to destroy the works of the devil – not to use the devil’s work as sermon material to teach some higher lesson. We can learn lots while sick, but we learn much more from learning to receive healing. I have been asked, what about this famous person with Parkinson’s or that famous woman in a wheel chair who are solid Christian people? Why aren’t they healed? Ask those people. They will tell you that they believe they are in God’s will doing exactly what He planned for them. They are resigned to the fact, that this is God’s will for them. Be it unto them as they have believed. Did they at one time believe in healing, but were disappointed when it didn’t come? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I will take God at His word over what someone else says their experience is.

Am I living out perfect healing in my life? Not yet, but in the last few weeks, my wife has been healed of a multiple nodular goiter after being diagnosed twice with the condition. This occurred without drugs or surgery, but rather as a result of reconciling herself to the Scriptures concerning healing, of which there are many. Furthermore, her arm was badly damaged in a head on collision over 25 years ago and has been disfigured until about a month ago when she noticed it was almost back to normal. We still have a ways to go, but as I said recently, we have left the station and I am merely passing on to you what I see along this journey. Now listen, the thing I don’t like about blogs is that you can’t cover all the bases without turning it into a long drawn out thing which folks won’t read, and even then it only triggers more questions. So I know that I am leaving many things unsaid, but I will leave it to you to do what Chrissie suggested in last week’s comments, to seek the Father and the Holy Spirit to teach you. Seek Him for clarity. Believe me, I still have questions, but I am finding more answers than ever before. Most importantly, I am finding Him and that is the prize worth everything to me.

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