A recent incident had me pondering about the road accidents, death and how the ones who caused them are pretty much murderers. Not quite sure how it happened, but my mind wondered into the bible and somehow I happened to be thinking about the Apostle Paul and his statement about a thorn in his flesh. To those who don’t know, Yes, I’m a born-again, Bible believing Christian and I’m not ashamed to say it.
“even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” ” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Getting back to the matter at hand, I was reminded about the above passage where Paul literally describes the thorn in his flesh. A whole lot of theories, speculation and ideas have been made about this passage. No one really knows what the thorn was.
- To some say that he was tormented by an evil spirit. I ask how that could be when Christ walked on the earth, evil spirits fled and left people. Paul himself cast out evil spirits.
- Some theorize that it was some kind of affliction or pain. That certainly cannot be true. The apostles were known to demonstrate the power of healing and Paul was no exception.
Now those are the theories and there are others. Yet no one has been able to confirm that exactly the thorn is. However as I thought about it, Paul gives us a vital clue. He claims to have requested God to remove the thorn, only to get the same answer every time, “My Grace is all you need.” He also says that this thorn is a constant reminder to him to keep his pride in check.
As I thought about it, I looked at God’s answer and then it dawned on me. Grace is defined in Christian teaching as the love and mercy given to us by God because He desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. The key word in there is ‘earn’.
I now believe the thorn that Paul was referring to was nothing more than “Guilt”. Prior to his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul was a known persecutor of early Christians. Thinking of the many innocent lives that he had killed on the count of their faith surely must have been tormenting. Imagine yourself in his shoes. Paul describes it as a messenger from Satan and Satan is also known as the accuser of the brethren. So that clearly stands to reason.
The fact that Paul states that this thorn also prevented him from being too puffed up and proud, clearly points to Guilt as well. Imagine as you’re receiving revelations from God, a guilty conscience nagging you, reminding you of how unworthy you are to receive it. It is clear to me now why God answered Paul in the way He did. God was saying, “My Grace is enough for you to overcome your guilt.” It wasn’t God’s job to get rid of the guilt. Everything that was needed to be done was already done on the Cross. It was Paul’s job to accept the Grace.
So what does that mean to us, here, now. We all have our thorns. Ever been haunted by past events? Ever tried to get to sleep only to be reminded of something that instantly makes you feel guilty? Well the answer is simple. For us Christians, God has simply provided an answer. If you have asked Him for forgiveness, God has instantly given you his Grace. He gave it long before you even asked actually.
Now you have two choices. Paul believed that the reason God didn’t intervene and take it away was because it was necessary to have in order to keep him humble. You can choose to be like Paul and let your guilt haunt you or you can choose to accept God’s grace, remove the guilt and have peace.
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