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Paul's Thorn; A Recipe for Healing

July 4th, 2021 I was in Brooklyn, NY speaking at a healing service. I had not gotten any sleep the night before. In fact, I could barely breathe, and I had sharp pains in my chest. I stood up before the congregation, feeling like I would fall over if a feather touched me. My voice was faint and trembling. I was certain that no one could hear me, even with the microphone. After I was done speaking, it was time to minister to those in attendance. Here I was a healing minister, at a healing service, and feeling like death warmed over! The service was a success with many coming forward and being healed, in spite of how I was feeling. Thank you, Jesus.

That was how I felt, yet what those in attendance saw and heard was totally different. In fact, when I arrived home and watched the video myself, I was amazed. Knowing how I had been feeling at the time, it wasn’t apparent on the video at all. Those in attendance all raved how filled with the Holy Spirit the service was. This is a real-life example of how I will gladly boast about my weaknesses, for when I am weak, he is strong, that the power of Christ will work through me. That is exactly how I made it through that day.

I knew that I was weak and admitted it to myself and others. I also knew the only way I would make it through was by His Spirit who resides in me. In fact, I often use this very incident as an example. Knowing and acknowledging our lack of ability and our weaknesses, is when His power flows through us freely. It is by acknowledging that God’s grace (empowerment) is sufficient for us, that His power is released. It is by our reliance on Him, not through our self-effort, that the miraculous happens.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So, I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, TPT)

Paul was not stating that God’s answer was no, rather he was stating that God’s empowerment is more than enough for any circumstances. This thorn in the flesh wasn’t a mystery illness either, it was persecution, and Paul states that it was a recipe for releasing the power of Christ into his situation. Notice two key sentences “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” and “I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.” In other words, it is through our lack that God unleashes His power through us. In my viewpoint this is one of the most victorious scriptures that the Apostle Paul ever wrote. In chapter 11 of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes of his many trials including being stone, in which case he was resurrected, being whipped and beaten with rods. All of which he miraculously survived through the power of Christ. Was God’s grace more than enough for Paul? Absolutely, and it’s through his example that we learn how to let God’s power be unleashed in and through us.

If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. (2 Corinthians 12:6-7, NLT)

The above scriptures is where the confusion sets in. Paul lays out the exact reason why he refused to boast. He is writing this in retrospect based upon the Lord’s answer to him. He is not writing as the Lord is answering him. He had been given the answer long before he wrote this letter. He is explaining how he viewed the persecution and trials that he underwent, because of what the Lord had told him. He used them to keep himself humble, so that God’s power would work in him and through him; because he was reliant upon God’s empowerment, not on his own strength and merit.

The fact that Paul describes the situation as a thorn in the flesh, specifically shows that it was persecution that Paul was facing. He specifically states that it was by a messenger of satan, which is to say human beings. The phrase “thorn in the flesh” is derived from the Book of Numbers, which is the fourth book in the Torah. As a Pharisee Paul knew the Torah quite well, which is the reason he uses the phrase thorn in the flesh. Our modern version is “pain in the neck”.

But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live. (Numbers 33:55. NLT)
know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you. (Joshua 23:13, NLT)

This is why there is no doubt about what Paul meant by thorn in the flesh. It was persecution by human beings, not a mystery disease. Paul lays out exactly how to experience God’s power; by admitting that we can’t achieve it through our wisdom, knowledge or strength, but only by God’s empowerment which is always available. When we admit we are weak, then He is strong in us.

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