Yesterday as we walked through Galatians Chapter 1, we were reminded again that during the Apostle Paul’s entire ministry he had people follow him everywhere he went in order to attack and discredit his ministry. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been for Paul.
Often someone will speak of Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Over the years theologians have offered many different ideas on what that thorn might have been. In II Cor. 12:7 Paul says, ” And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure”. Paul then goes on to say that he prayed three times asking the Lord to remove the thorn. And then Paul tells us that instead of removing the thorn, God tells him, ” My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
So what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? I wonder if it was the fact that God allowed these men….these critics…..these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to follow him everywhere he went. Paul would lead people to the Lord, plant a church, go on to another city and soon learn that these trouble makers were right behind him troubling the new converts, perverting the gospel message and attacking Paul’s credibility.
It would not surprise me to get to heaven and ask Paul, ” What was the messenger of Satan….this thorn in the flesh that God did not remove” ….and learn that it was this group of “wolves in sheep’s clothing.
So what was Paul’s answer when God refused to remove this thorn? We find it in II Cor. 12: 10 where Paul says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
How great it is to serve the Lord with a limp !