Thorn in the Flesh
Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:30 AM
"And lest i should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure"
As to what exactly Paul's thorn in the flesh was, we have no clear indication. I often feel like at times we perceive the apostle Paul to be just a step below Jesus in diety; however, he was a sinner, just like the rest of us.....who self admitted; proclaimed to be the chief sinner among us. And yet, here we find the apostle admitting that he could indeed become conceited. How many people do you know, including yourself, that openly admit their weaknesses?
God had been so gracious to Paul by giving him great revelations. Paul had an extraordinary experience with God; as we see in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. Paul says in the verse that he was given a thorn in the flesh by God, "lest I should be exalted above measure". This implies that God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh so that others would not think too highly of him and for Paul, it was a profoundly humbling experience.
But as we see, this thorn in the flesh manifests God's glory. He would not have given it to Paul if that would not be so. It is a way in whch the Lord chooses to unveil His glory unto us. Each and every one of us are different, and God deals with each person as though there was no one else to love. He knows everything about us and therefore knows what it takes to get our attention. The way God gets out attention and brings us to a degree of humility is by manifesting His glory.
I just want to open for discussion: what is your thorn in the flesh? Could it be loneliness? Disability, money, personality problems, a sexual misgiving, unhappy marriage, employment?
We must not despise our thorn; for it punctures our pride and cultivates humility, glorifying the Lord. For whom the Lord loveth, He chastens.
Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:14 PM
...and God deals with each person as though there was no one else to love.
This implies that God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh so that others would not think too highly of him and for Paul, it was a profoundly humbling experience.
The way God gets out attention and brings us to a degree of humility is by manifesting His glory.
I just want to open for discussion: what is your thorn in the flesh?
We must not despise our thorn; for it punctures our pride and cultivates humility, glorifying the Lord. For whom the Lord loveth, He chastens.
I see from your post that this is really something to address every Christian on the face of this sad spinning mud ball - earth!
First of all, I like the first sentence quoted above. Really like the way you worded that.
Yes, we are really reminded of our status in the flesh by our "thorn(s) in the flesh".. Whether for Paul this was a matter of his physicality, soul or spirit, we don't know (as you state). I've heard it all as far as opinions from others about what this thorn was for Paul. Show it to me in the word and I'll believe it. I don't see it, but there are allusions to it.
For me, it is anxiety in general. This thorn in the flesh, for me, really cannot be separated out into a neat package since we all consist of three aspects of a human being: body, soul and spirit. There's just separating them and there's no getting around it. This is not fear. I'm fearless in many aspects of life, i.e. adventure.
I suppose the LORD has this sticker in me to keep me in line. When someone has anxiety (generalized), its unpredictability defies reason. This forces me to seek God, although I have not always and, even still, do not always go to Him in my anxious state at first. It is currently more frequent that I go to the LORD first. The physical aspects mean I have extreme discomfort, even alone with no apparent reason in place. Get flushed, heart races, feel ill. When I'm with others, the anxiety can make me want to flee! My emotions (soul) are affected to the point of distraction. My spirit becomes disturbed, not just because of the anxiety, but the guilt that accompanies this - a sense that it is not well with my soul; therefore, not with my spirit either. Then, not with God either. A cycle is produced and it affects everything. Every aspect of life is affected to the point that any sin outlet is possible. As you stated above, all that you list is in my history. It is only by GOD's supernatural affect that most of these are completely extracted from my life after mourning for relief from sin over about 15 years.
My dear sweet husband, who is so lay back, is kind to me but, I realize now and am actually grateful to the LORD, that my husband can do nothing when I'm in an anxious state. No one can help. Medication? Tried it, but I refuse to bow to the god of psychiatry any longer. It may be necessary and fine for some, but not me because....
this is the thorn in the flesh that keeps me focused on the LORD. Thank GOD for that. I really don't ask for it to be removed any more.
With respect to sharing the thorn in the flesh with others as Paul did "to manifest His glory" or, as you stated "to puncture the pride". Hmmm. I'm not sure that I could just go around telling people. Afterall, a nonbeliever can use twist it to attack faith. I've experienced this just a bit. And, sometimes folks - believer or unbeliever - just plain stumble on this kind of thing. It 's not something I readily share, even with "close" friends. I've been criticized for it and I don't want anyone to stumble, so I refrain. If the SPIRIT led, I would share, and have when others have told me they have anxiety. It is a rare event!
I know that Beth Moore, a well-known women's bible study writer and teacher has a past broadly tattered with sin and she is open about that in a general sense --- addiction, bondage to sin, etc., but she is very careful to reveal details as not to cause it to make people stumble by thinking too much about it.
Thanks to you EJ for your post as I find it helpful to see how others view their candidness in sharing their thorn in the flesh with others to glorify GOD.
Love and blessings,
Posted 13 December 2012 - 05:34 PM
Just thinking about this topic today and would like to add, if I may:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1
This is a scripture I memorized and call to mind a lot! The purpose of the thorn in the flesh (suffering).
Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:28 PM
My biggest thorn is my compulsiveness. It means I'm continually looking for my next high, the next thing that will absorb me. In my younger days I was rather wild and would go head first into relationships without thinking things through. It was about feelings. I had to battle men, alcohol, tobacco, dogs, horses... All these things can be idol worship if they come before Jesus.
And my dyslexia hurt my self esteem. There were many times I looked kind of slow in front of the world, my classmates. Somehow in my head I knew I was still smart. And as I got older the boys seemed to like me so that's what I concentrated on.The thing I wanted most was a husband and best friend. Well, life went on with one mistake after the other until God found me. He keeps my compulsiveness under control and showed me that He is who I was looking for. It's His love I yearn for, His acceptance, His pride of what He created. God does love me like there is no one else. He is my true blue Father and I'm finally daddy's girl.
Are all these prickly things resolved? No, but I'm under His Wings and He does come first now. Love and Blessing to you all too! Bets
Posted 13 December 2012 - 07:57 PM
Your post touched my heart to tears. Your explanation of your compulsive thorn in the flesh and all that you explain reaches to the soul and spirit. You're certainly daddy's (Abba's) girl! The love of the LORD is evident.
Seen compulsiveness in me as a sin result of the anxiety issues which stem, somewhat at least, I believe, from doubt and insecurities. Funny, I glanced at an old mini-series that was on TV, "The Thorn Birds", a troubling tale, to be sure,(and I'm sure you're too young to have seen or heard of it). I looked at that beautiful woman in the film and quickly had a gut wrenching, anxiety producing realization that I will never, at 56, be that young again! That tells you the flesh creeps up. It will be great to have a glorified body.
It is refreshing - candidness. I guess it's easier for me without the risk of face-to-face threat of an off glance or tell-tale sign of fleshly judgment that seems all too common, at least around these parts. People, even Christians, seem so unreliable in their (our) humanness to keep a watchful eye on my heart. I just don't tell.
Keep telling sister! So your thorn will glorify God in that you trust him and that He has you under his sings.
Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:41 AM
One of my biggest thorns would absolutely have to be loneliness. I am 25 years old and I live with my best friend, who is also a Christian. Upon my conversion, less than two years ago, the Lord ravished my heart and began, as faithful as He is, to prune me, cutting off branches that did not bear fruit.
There are not a lot of people who I fellowship with. Very hard to find Christians my age who just want to hang out, talk and glorify the Lord. I enjoy nothing more then sitting down and hearing about how God is working in and through other people. My work schedule pretty much has me at work all weekend so I am not able to attend church.
I often find myself very lonely, and I desire very much so to have a wife. But I will be faithful unto my God and wait upon His calling, if it shall come. I spend a lot of my days in my room, with the music on, studying, reading and praying. The Lord has driven me to my knees and I am so deeply thankful. Like I said previously, in His tender mercies, God has convicted me of those things that do not bear fruit and through His strength I began to cut them off. I do not have cable, facebook or anthing like that. Most of the time I am shut up to the Lord, alone. And most of the time, I absolutely love it. But there are times when I feel very lonely. And when this happens it affects me greatly.
Praise the Lord, I know all things work for our good to those who love Him. The mightiest of men and women, those who stand tallest; are those who are on their knees. The battles are won in the prayer closet; what an amazing gift that has been given to us. While preaching may effect time and men, prayer affects eternity and God.
Bless you all, and just has Candice noted; may we rejoice in all things. Our God is a soveriegn God. When the choas comes, and when our thorn rises, our God is still in control and He is still just as sovereign as He has been and ever will be. May we boast of our weaknesses! For in our weakness, His strength his made perfect.
Posted 14 December 2012 - 07:33 AM
Number one: Every since I was a little boy. as early as I can remember, I have been plagued in my mind with thoughts of same-sex attraction. (There....I softened the term up a bit). I first recognized this when I was in the first grade. This is when feelings of " I'm different" started to shape my thought life and cause me to live under a dark cloud of "I am different from my peers" type of thinking. As I carried this horrendous load secretly into my pubescent years it became more pronounced no matter how much I prayed, or sought to shake these thoughts of "needing male affection". I felt totally isolated in my dilemma. Not one soul could I talk to about it, ESPECIALLY my parents. In my senior year in high school I discovered the numbing effects of booze and drugs and finally could live in my own skin without feeling the self-loathing that constantly was in my mind. About ten different times, and while very intoxicated, I let a person (who wholeheartedly accepted his homosexuality), have his way. This added tremendously to my feelings of self-hatred and self-disgust. During all of these formative years, I read my Bible and NEW in my heart (from early childhood) that the Words in this Book were especially set apart and very important. I also new what the Bible said about same sex attraction (again...trying to be mindful of tender, innocent, sensibilities, that may read this drastic situation). And knowing what the Bible said made me reach out for ways to STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. But, as is the case with anything else, the harder I tried to NOT THINK ABOUT IT, the more it plagued me. I continued to drink and shoot narcotics into my arm, by the thousands of dollars, until I had went to prison twice, and completed 13 different rehabs....two of them Faith based, and one of THEM being a year long. But it was not until the last rehab, that I was so desperate for help that I decided to follow instructions and find another fellow human being (he was a Christian) and unload EVERYTHING about me to that person. I haven't had a drink since. But the thoughts are there unless I am vigilant about taking EVERY THOUGHT captive. So yes....I consider this issue to be a major thorn in my flesh. (That is, if Paul's thorn in the flesh could be considered to be anything other than a physical malady) We have all noticed how much having a physical sickness (even just a head-cold) can take much of the ZEST from our prayer life. There are probably a multitude more people who only WISH that they could be as candid as I have been so that could at least feel that blessed healing that comes from "Confess your FAULTS one to another that ye may be healed." I find that if I talk about it, and keep it from the secret "fantasy" part of my thinking, that it loses much of it's power. Thank you for providing the opportunity of unloading this crap. Whether it's a thorn in the flesh (and I HAVE called it that at times) or a serious mental disorder (Charles Spurgeon would have had this mindset) I don't truly know. I didn't ask for it. I can tell ya that. And I most CERTAINLY DID NOT CHOOSE IT.....as many totally insensitive Evangelicals (???) like to think today, because that's the only way they can make it make sense. They are DEAD wrong. I know. I have lived in this lonely hell for 49 years. Many times in my life have I found myself totally RESENTING GOD for allowing me to have these thoughts and proclivities. And then making plain in the Scriptures what HIS views are concerning such. Peronally? I don't know what caused it or Who or what it originated.......but I want no part of something that holds the potential of damning my soul. It;s far more complicated.....this thorn.....than can be stated in one thread. But worry not.....I know where the door is if my candidness is not acceptable here. Oh, and by the way, I was married in the early 1990's for 5 years and was very attracted to my wife. Go explain that one. I tell ya....If I EVER get that total assurance of my salvation....., I'll be SO READY for Jesus to come carry us out of this awful awful awful human experience, and give us our new glorified bodies, and allow us to live in a place where there is no sin....or sinful thoughts.
Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:22 AM
I must commend you sir, and I thank the Lord for you and your life. What an amazing thing it is, to be able to open and honest with your brothers and sisters. I am blown away with your honesty and ability to just put everything out there like that. That is truly a testament to the work of the Holy Spirit within you. From all of your posts, I can tell that you are a man who is on fire for the Lord and seeks a deep intimacy with Him. Your life seems as though it has been a constant struggle at times, and yet, your faith has increased; praise the Lord His strength in manifested in our weaknesses.
One thing you said that pertains to me is that thoughts are there unless you are vigilant to take every one of them captive; and I'm the same way. Up until I was 23.5, from the second I woke up, till the second I fell asleep, my mind was constantly flooded with sexual thoughts. I always had a gf, but I always cheated. It was, "who can I get to sleep with me today...if my gf doesnt want to, i will find someone else who will". I treated women like the scum of the earth, all they were to me was a number. The thoughts would take control over me. As I got older, about 22-23, I didnt like who I was and I tried to stop the cheating; but I could not control it. It had a grip on me that would not let go. I mean no matter where I went, I was in trouble with these thoughts. The classroom with the teacher, the grocery store with the cashier, the stoplight with the girl in the car next to me; it was a constant battle.
And I know some of you may be saying I know plenty of people like this; but this was different. This was an extreme case and it was not until the Lord saved me that I began to have some peace. I still struggle with this today, but I try to give everything to the Lord. I won't allow myself to be put into situations in which I know would be very tempting for me: i.e. - do not allow myself to go to a beach, have a parent control system on my computer in which i do not know the password and I pretty much erased all contacts in my phone that were girls. I am a very, very weak man who is dependant upon my God for everything. We must run the race that is set before us, with all diligence, for He is a rewarder to those who seek Him diligently.
Kevin sir, you are an inspiration to me and I thank you for sharing. Continue to die to self, and let us carry our own crosses. If we wallow in self-pity or self-preservation, our cross will be too heavy to bear. nothing is more important than lowliness of heart, and detachment from our own opinions and will. Stiffness and harshness is not the spirit of Jesus Christ. When we accept the cross we have been given and we simply allow it to do the work God intended, we will be happy because we will see what good fruit is produced in us. God has all sorts of different circumstances to bring us before our cross, and they all accomplish His purpose. Of course the world may not see us dealing witht he cross; they just think we are touch and prone to fits of nervous exhaustion. We must learn to bear our sufferings in patience and meekness. We are nothing without the cross; so we must embrace it. Let us not dwell on our sufferings. Our oversensitivites makes our trials worse; we must abandon ourselves to God! We may be upset by sufferings and small losses; but we do not see the eternal gains!!
Posted 14 December 2012 - 01:00 PM
Posted 14 December 2012 - 03:11 PM
I care for you all so much because of your frailties, not in spite of them. It increases my faith and testifies to God's goodness.
BTW Candice, I'm 61 years old. Perhaps because I've never had children I will always be a child. In my younger days I had three abortions. When I finally was ready for a child. I had a miscarriage. I believe God answered me to whether I was to have children. I know I will see my children in heaven and can ask their forgiveness. Please don't feel badly for me, I never had a strong maternal instinct, only with animals. So if I can be forgiven for murder, we all can be forgiven our transgressions. Jesus came for us sinners... the ones who know they are.
Posted 14 December 2012 - 10:16 PM
Posted 15 December 2012 - 01:58 AM
For the longest time I had trouble with these verses. I had no idea how to pluck certain sins from my being, nor did I want to. But as I've come to love and know Him more the harder it is to sin. And He gives me grace by taking away my unhealthy desires. I may mourn the fact that I will never cleave and grow old with a man, but I wouldn't trade my love of Jesus for anything.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Posted 15 December 2012 - 07:00 AM
But it also keeps me in the house and away from places like Wal Mart and going out to eat (which I do alot since I rarely cook). It severely affects the "peace that passeth understanding". I have asked God for a direct healing of this very unpleasant situation. It seems to come in cycles. Right now...this morning, I feel as calm as I can feel and it feels good. My ability to communicate isn't affected and my ability to see that "Jesus loves me, this I know" remains intact. It is a very real problem with fellow Christians, though I have no way of knowing percentages. But it DOES cause a person to throw him/her-self upon God to ask for sufficient grace to make through to the other side of this awful physiological dilemma. Everytime I start feeling it coming on, I immediately examine my life to see if I own an amend to someone. I also, now that I recognize the onset, begin praying in earnest that God would remove this hideous tendency from me. It's that same feeling ya get when your home alone at night and here something bump against the outside of the house. I can absolutely empathize with anyone who has to endure this. My father had it. But he was a physician and kept sample packs of nerve medicine on hand in case one struck. Plus....he disliked a social life just like me. He even isolated himself from the family. He stayed in a small room with his Television (where he watched PBS, NOVA, Masterpiece Theatre, etc etc ...and John Wayne movies) Anyway.....that's is a second major thorn. I'll end my list with that one.
PS: (I certainly hope that I have not alienated myself from any regulars on this forum with my first post. Even so, if that;s the case, then that's how it has to be. Being brutally honest with ourselves can disclose some ugly ugly things. They are NOT MEANT to be kept to oneself, no matter how.........traditional one has been brought up. By the way, I would do it again if the opportunity presented itself, but since I'm washed clean in the matter, I'll not fret much on how other's view me. Besides, one of the few that has opened up about the topic. The VAST majority have learned to repress it. They turn to porn sites etc etc. But if the ugliness is shared with others, only then can healing continue to occur. Besides, I have found it to be an acid test of who is truly your friend or who is not. Either way, I have done what I think is absolutely necessary. And if it costs the respect, affections, of others, then so be it)
Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:05 PM
This site is really important to me, the people here are in my heart and once we get through the part of knowing one another I'm sure the deeper things of Christ will come. Frankly, I don't know how anything could get deeper. Our little church here just doesn't have the form of the structured church. And truly, I wish I could walk next door, or you walk here for a nice meal rejoicing over our Lord but that's just not possible right now.
With that I will leave you with the first Tozer message I ever read. ( Sorry about the color)
THE LONELINESS OF THE CHRISTIAN
The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.
Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:09 PM
Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:25 PM
Posted 15 December 2012 - 05:07 PM
Amen brother! You have brought your bondage into the light. Now, that it is in the light, Satan can't stand that. So, he lost! Finally, no sin is worse than another. The only sin that stands to further chain us or entangle us and others along with us, is keeping it in the dark.
"You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light" Sam 22:29
"Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD's wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness." Micah 7:9
"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:20-21.
Kevin, you are loved by the LORD and show your victory is truly in Christ, not by some prideful admision of that you could be continually duped by satan into believing this is some horrible sin, but by putting it into the light so that you may walk in the righteousness of the LORD. Once it's in the light, it's power is gone and so is the enemy. Death has surely lost it's sting.
Rebuke Satan, but always pray before and after for the power. You take authority over it.
When I went through a hard time after the love of my life, my late pilot husband died in a plane crash just five months after we were married, I went into a period of sexual sin about a year later that lasted about a year. It was horrible. It was a result of just plain old sin nature, but the sin came from being anxious (anxiety) about the future, God's reality, etc. The guilt is difficult to get over. I hope you have freedom in completion because your transparency also brings it into the light where satan cannot dwell. It is so encouraging to hear you're walking in rightousness.
Betsy and Lori, thank you for blessing me with your particular stories since you both share a woman's heart about various issues that impact women. Again, it's in the light and darkness cannot overtake it.
Thank you all.
Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:09 PM
Merry CHRIST-mas to all of you this coming week,
Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:44 PM
Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:41 AM
I am new to the forum. Please forgive any faux pas.
My thorn is recent events that have caused me to think that I am trash. I am having a hard time understanding if it is coming from a fallen man (my husband) or the Lord.
I have been a Christian since I was a young girl. I had been taught that if one follows God, loves Him with all one's heart and obeys Him, then a blessed life will result. Recently I have learned that this is a lie.
Over the last year or so, my life has been filled with the deepest pain I have ever felt. Though I can see the pain is due to sins committed by my husband, God allowed it. And so resulted my feelings that I am nothing but a piece of trash... in my husband's eyes and (more painfully) in God's eyes.
Today, I am struggling to forgive my husband because God loves forgiveness, to reconcile my marriage because God hates divorce and to love because He is Love.
But the events that have happened have created a thorn that have caused crippling pain.
My question: How does one get past or through or even just cope with the pain of the thorn?