I’m just curious–do any of you experience anyone ever mocking you or putting you down, or face any types of distressing situations, or troubles because of your Christian convictions, or face any other difficulties because of your faith?
Well, if so, join the club. What you are experiencing has been and is being experienced by other Christians as well.
In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul communicates these troubles as “thorns in the flesh”. God says to Paul that these troubles are Satanic attacks on him. Certainly, they are unpleasant.
Paul also goes on to say that these attacks on him have been allowed by God. These troubles Paul was experiencing weren’t a punishment from God, but actually a good thing. In fact, Paul had just had a personal revelation, however because an experience like this could so easily lead Paul to being proud, thinking he was a better Christian than anyone else, more important than anyone else, God allowed these troubles to come to him to remind him of his weaknesses and his desperate need for God.
These “thorns in the flesh” would be a reminder to Him to always be depending on God to meet all his needs.
Think of it like this: if you have a 103 degree temperature, you feel awful. Because something is going wrong for you health-wise, you instinctively know you need help and so you look for a solution, whether it’s with some kind of medicine or realizing you need to go the doctor. Your high fever acts as a motivator for you to get help.
That’s what Paul is talking about. His “thorns in the flesh” were reminders to him to think on God for His help.
Back in 2011, I had 3 knee surgeries in roughly six weeks due to infections (and aging knees). My inability now to bend my right knee beyond 90 degrees is a “thorn in the flesh” for me. It’s a reminder to me to rely on God’s help all the time. Its a reminder to me about the shortness of this earthly life and the need to think on the things that really matter, like faith, and showing love to others.
How about you? What “thorns in the flesh” are you experiencing these days? As you consider your troubles, I guess you have two main choices: one is that you could get all kinds of self-centered. You could say to yourself, “why me, I don’t deserve this?”, you could become a very bitter person, you could become a very angry person, you could become a basket case of worries.
On the other hand, you could acknowledge each specific “thorn in the flesh”from Him. You could think through positive lessons that you can now experience because of these troubles. You could turn in the direction of gratefulness for these difficulties because of the valuable lessons they are teaching you.
And greatest of all, you hopefully would see in your experiences in these trying times that you need never be alone. God’s desire is for you to recognize that He loves you and that He wants you to understand that He wants to do life with you.
If you ever jump to a conclusion where you wonder to yourself, “oh yeah, well if He is such a good God, why did He allow me to experience these trying times that I am now facing?
Well, as a proof of His love for you, all you really need to do is face the truth that He loves you so much He was willing to die on a cross for you to remove the punishment you (and I) deserve because of your sin before this Holy God. He has allowed you to undergo some short-term setbacks for long-term (think eternal) benefits. Yeah, I think that is a no-brainer kind of deal for us–right!
I’m not certain what good things could come from your specific “thorn in the flesh”, but I’m certain that as you focus on who He really is and all He has done for you in Christ, you will have a growing sense of peace and confidence that truly all things will work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes in Christ Jesus.