Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh and its Meaning for You

Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh and its Meaning for You

Paul’s thorn in the flesh could have meaning for you. The greater the thorn, the greater the wound and scar.

A ‘Thorn in the flesh’ can disable your walk physically and spiritually, but it can also be a place of growth as it keeps you in humility. Could your thorn change you?

As a child, I used to walk the fields of our farm on bare feet. One of the hazards of doing this was getting prickles in my feet. 

Little thorns from thistles would dig in, and I would be stopped in my tracks.
Sitting down, I would try and squeeze the little invader out of my skin.
I often couldn’t do this, so I had to hobble home, find a needle out of Mum’s sewing kit and dig and delve for the tiny little thorn.

Sometimes I couldn’t find it, and I had to get someone to help me or wait until it worked its way to the surface.

Thorns are a right pain in the butt, especially if you get them there! They disable you. They cripple and slow you down.

The greater the thorn, the greater the scar.

The Apostle Paul talks in 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 about having a thorn in the flesh, which crippled and held him back.

In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

Many suggestions have been made about what this could have been, ranging from eyesight problems, epilepsy, temptations, and even some say his marriage. It’s a wide-open topic people have sweated and argued over for centuries.

I am going to give you my suggestion.

I believe Paul’s thorn in the flesh was the memories of his past. Paul was a man with an incredibly shameful past.

If a ‘This is your life’ show was made about Paul, it would include some very dark and evil moments of him murdering and persecuting Christians.

Check it out here Acts 7:54 – 8:3

Such was his past that he renamed himself from Saul to Paul. He wanted to leave the name of ‘Saul’ and all its connotations behind.

This past shadows his life and how he views himself. Listen to these words.

For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1 Corinthians 15:9

Paul was forgiven, but he was left with memory scars, reminders that kept him from being too elated.

We all have thorns in the flesh

We all have them.

Memories, some good, some bad. Incidents in the past have shaped and crafted who we have become today.

Recently I have been reading the memoirs of Brennan Manning. ‘All is Grace’

Manning has many thorns in his side, and he doesn’t hold back in bringing them to the surface for all to see.

He describes shame in this way.

The sense of being completely insufficient as a person, the nagging feeling that you’re defective and unworthy. Brennan Manning

I wonder what Paul felt when his life was exposed for all to see.

Shame, guilt, love, mercy, forgiveness, hope?

Perhaps all mingled around in his thoughts.

The fruit of a thorn

Paul’s thorny load of memories kept him close to Jesus.

Shame will either cage you behind iron bars of self-protection or keep you humble and dependent as you move forward.

Our memories, good and bad, can be an incredible springboard for God’s use in helping others. This was certainly the case for Paul, and it can be for us, also.

Those who have been there, done that, got the tear-stained T-Shirt to have a more profound personal experience of suffering than those who may only have academic knowledge.

Paul’s thorny load of memories transformed lives.

Your memories can be too.

Barry Pearman
Photo by jon bagnato? on Unsplash

Read further

Who will wipe my tears

Does God Hate Me?

I Curse The Day I Was Born

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