THORN IN THE FLESH

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Man prays to God

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
James 1:17 NKJV

Apostle Paul made a statement, in his second letter to the Corinthian church, that the church today has interpreted incorrectly. Let’s take a look at what he said.

“especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.”
2 Corinthians 12:7 HCSB

Many have interpreted the phrase in today’s topic and the verse above, where it came from, to mean that sickness can be a way that God teaches us lessons.

In subsequent verses, Paul prayed that the thorn be taken away but God supplied His grace to be sufficient for him. Similarly, this has also been interpreted to mean that God may not be willing to take away our illnesses and diseases but only supplies grace for us to go through them.

However, these interpretations of scripture run against the nature of God and are thereby questionable. Our anchor scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift is from God. That means, if something is not good, according to God’s standards, then it’s not from Him.

What does this phrase mean then? Does God punish us with sickness?

It is important to know that this is not the first time in the Bible that this phrase was used. Let’s look at the first set of places where the Bible mentions it.

“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.” Numbers 33:55 ESV

“Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” Judges 2:3 KJV

In these passages, we see God and/or His servants using the phrase in question to give the Israelites a warning. Neither of these two verses referred to “thorn in the flesh” as being a sickness.

It was best seen as a figure of speech used in the Old Testament that denotes persecution, not an illness. Paul, a seasoned scholar of the Old Testament scriptures, would also not use the phrase to refer to sickness.

The persecution he was going through while spreading the gospel was painful and inevitable (2 Corinthians 11:23-30). Because of that, God supplied him with grace to endure them.

Dear believer, don’t justify sicknesses and diseases from scripture or as a form of God’s punishment. God’s will is for you to be in perfect health (3 John 1:2), and He has made a healer out of you for that purpose.

In the face of illnesses, lay your hands on the sick and pray with boldness, firmly believing God for perfect healing because you are in his perfect will as a believer.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 4:43-54, I Peter 1:10-16, Ecclesiastes 11, Jeremiah 35-38

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