Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Why do afflictions come to the believer?
In Part 3: We looked at the Holy Spirit as out comforter, helper, advocate etc. i.e. our Divine Paraclete.
Today in Part 4: Why do afflictions come to the believer? Could it even be that that it is in the face of affliction that Christian ministry becomes most effective? Do you remember the story of Paul’s thorn in the flesh (TITF)?
2 Cor. 12:7-10 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the 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. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Paul's thorn in the flesh is a colloquialism used to describe various possibilities such as a chronic infirmity, an annoyance, or trouble in a believer's life. It is mostly used by Christians.
A minister friend of mine calls me his thorn in the flesh! Through the centuries various meanings have been ascribed to Paul’s thorn in the flesh; persecutions and unfortunate experiences, the temptation to unbelief, a pain in the ear/head, an eye condition etc.
My own view is that it was hindering spirit (angelos) which stirred up opposition wherever Paul went.
So, what was the purpose of the thorn in the flesh?
Christian ministry seems to be most effective when the believer recognises her own weakness and this is exactly what the TITF achieves!
It is the irritation of the grains of sand that leads to the oyster producing a pearl.
In 2 Cor 1:7 ‘Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.’