Throughout life, we endure several trials and tribulations. For the follower of Christ, these storms are a test of our faith. For the non-Believer, it is a time of doom where all hope is lost. The world seems to cave in, and life is just about going through the motions and grasping for different ways of relief to cope with the pain. We inherit diseases, heartache, pain, insecurities, anxiety, depression, and so much more to the point of even death. These are all thorns in the flesh.
For me, a thorn in the flesh looks a lot like fear, worry, uncertainty, stress, and my every-day struggle with Crohn’s Disease (a chronic inflammatory bowel condition within the gastrointestinal tract).
What does a thorn in the flesh look like for you?
For example, maybe you are uncertain about a career for the future. You could be battling an illness, whether it be a chronic disease or a minor head cold, or your relationship with your family may not be the greatest. Your hair could have gotten ruined from the weather conditions outside, or the house you live in just was foreclosed on because you couldn’t afford to pay the next bill.
The list could go on and on, but let’s take a look at what Paul and Job experienced for a second.
In 2 Corinthians 12:6-10, Paul talks about a “thorn in the flesh” given to him by a messenger of Satan. He does not specify on what this thorn is, but it played a such great role in his life to the point that he prayed three times to the Lord, asking Him that the thorn would go away.
In the book of Job, we see that Job literally and almost instantly lost everything. He lost his kids, his animals, and his servants. He also was plagued with boils. Job was a faithful servant of God, and Satan was given permission by God to bring all of this destruction into Job’s life. Job mourned and suffered greatly through all of this. His friends gave him advice, but rather, he wanted to seek out why the Lord brought him through all of this.
Even though these stories could have remained negative and full of shame, they didn’t.
Instead of Paul grasping for worldly ways to find strength and help, he looked to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 2:9, it says, “And he said unto me, My grade 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.” Paul went on to say, “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.” Paul believed the promise Jesus made when He said that He was Paul’s strength in the midst of his weakness. He found pleasure in resting under the refuge of God’s strength for his thorn in the flesh, and God used Paul’s situation to help him remain humble in the presence of the Lord.
In Job 38, God gave two different speeches to Job. He proved to Job that He was, is, and always will be faithful. The speeches go from chapters thirty-eight to forty-one, and Job repented and was delivered from his sufferings in chapter forty-two. Though Job’s faith was shaken, God never moved.
The same applies for our lives. We may falter and waiver in our faith to the point that we question and doubt God, but He never will be shaken. He stands strong, and in His strength, we can stand strong as well. God uses the hardships of our lives to help us learn and rely on Him through everything, not just the hard times. Because of sin, we suffer, but because of Jesus, our lives are taken over with strength and humility — humility to rely on and praise God, strength to press on. God is faithful. No matter the temptation or the trial, He will make a way through.
1 Corinthians 10:13