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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
"How to Understand a Thorn in the Flesh"
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.
1) God allows it for your good--Deut 8:14; Gal 4:13ff
2) He wants you to pray about it--Ps 77:2-11; Heb 5:7
3) It is a work of God to boast about--2 Cor 1:4, 4:8-10; Rom 5:3-5; James 1:2ff; 1 Peter 1:6-7, 4:13-14
Martin Luther wrote:
"He is the Carpenter and we are the wood. His handiwork is the dear, Holy Cross, which is bound to follow upon the teaching of the Gospel. He plies His tools and works on us, planes and carves us, in order to kill the old man within us and in this way completely to prepare us to be His new creation. He must take large axes, saws, wedges, for the Old Adam is a tough scoundrel.
This work of God goes on till death. Through this work Christendom became so great and strong. Through it the beloved martyrs went to heaven. Through it the holy fathers were enlightened in the Scriptures. Through it, Christians became experienced and trained people, good for giving advice and help in all things."
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To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:7-9a
I remember when we were school children we used to play a game called "King of the Hill." We often played this game when there were hills of snow we could climb up. The object of the game was to go after the guy who was "King of the Hill" and knock him down so that you could be "King of the Hill." Then someone bigger or stronger would knock you down.
Sometime the guy on top of the hill was bragging too much and then he would go down a lot faster. Thats what it means in the Bible when Paul talks about being "conceited." The guy who is King of the Hill got his strong body from God; he cant brag about it.
Well, Paul had some very special gifts from God. He was appointed to be Gods special representative to people who were not Jews. We call them "Gentiles." It was his job to help Gentiles believe in Jesus and be saved. One of the things God did to prepare Paul for his work was to let him see heaven. So that Paul wouldnt get boastful like the "King on the Hill," God gave him a thorn in his flesh; he calls it "a messenger of Satan to torment me."
Paul didnt say what his "thorn" was, but it probably was poor eyesight. You know how they test your vision at the beginning of each school year. Well, Paul would have failed that test.
Now listen carefully. Paul tells us that he asked God three times to make him better. But each time the Lord said "No." Then he said: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
This may be hard for you to understand, but lets try. We like to do things ourselves, but some things we will never do without Gods help. So when we are weak, thats when we rely much more on God. You may not realize this for a long time, but it will be one of the most important things you will ever learn: "When I am weak in myself, then I am strong in God." It worked for Paul. You and I are Christians in no small measure because of Paul, that weak man who became strong in God.
Just remember, when God says "No" to your prayers, He has a good reason for it. He just may want to let his strength work through your weakness for the good of everyone around you. Youll just have to trust Him, that He can say "No" and still love you. After all, Jesus died for us so that we could be Gods children now and forever. He is our heavenly Father and sometimes fathers have to say "No." So trust Him always.
Option #2: "Tripped
Up But Not Cut Off"
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:33 PM