August 19 – Today’s Readings – 2Corinthians 12-13 and Psalms 49
What do you make of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”? I personally have heard many differing thoughts concerning this unusual wording – but what are the facts? We do know that God initially got Paul’s attention by knocking him off his horse and blinding him with a bright light:
Acts 9:1-3 – “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”
Acts 9:8 – “Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.”
Acts 9:17-18 – “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.”
When the Lord sent the disciple Ananias to Paul to restore his sight and help him receive the Holy Spirit, Paul seemed to have a complete healing in his eyes. Later however, we see that Paul, who was very educated and well able to write, used others to write his letters for him – see Romans 16:22 – “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.” Later still, we find Paul doing a bit of writing at the end of his letters just to authenticate that it was him who was writing – see 1Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18 & 2Thessalonians 3:17 – “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.” Then, in Galatians 6:11 – we find Paul telling his readers –“See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!”
Could it be that God used the same infirmity that led Paul to submission and repentance to later teach him other lessons about humility and grace? I have long thought so but others would of course disagree.
The real issue is that God is sovereign and if He wants to allow a “thorn in the flesh” to teach us something or to keep us humble, He can and will do it.
1. Name another individual in Scripture who was taught a spiritual lesson because of a “thorn in the flesh”.
2. Tell of a time when God got your attention by means of some physical thing that was happening to you or around you.