Suffering and sickness in the Bible – Part 23
Reasons For Believers’ Sickness (Cont’)
“…Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you.” (Mi. 6:13)
6:16 Omri reigned over Israel and led the people into idol worship (1 Kings 16:21-26). Ahab, his son, was Israel’s most wicked king (1Kings 16:29-33). If the people were following the commands and practices of these kings, they were in bad shape. Such pervasive evil was ripe for punishment.
(13) To keep us humble, dependent on God, and attentive to communication from God.
“In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man, …” (Job 33:17).
“… out of weakness were made strong …” (Heb. 11:34).
Read Job 33:17-24; read 2 Cor. 12:7-10 and Gal. 4:13, 14 about God’s refusal to heal Paul.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” (2 Cor. 12:7)
“a thorn in the flesh” (v7). The word “thorn” communicates the idea of pain, trouble, sufferings, humiliation or physical infirmities, but not temptation to sin (cf. Gal 4:13-14).
• Paul’s thorn remains undefined, so that all those with a “thorn” can readily apply the spiritual lesson of this passage to themselves.
• Paul’s thorn is attributed to demonic activity or origin, permitted yet limited by God (cf. Job 2:1ff).
• At the same time, Paul’s thorn was given to keep him from becoming proud over revelations that he had received.
• Paul’s thorn kept him dependent in greater measure on divine grace. (v.9; Heb 12:10)
We don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, because he doesn’t tell us. Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God refused. Paul was a very self-sufficient person; so, this thorn must have been difficult for him.
A “thorn” kept Paul humble, reminded him of his need for constant contact with God, and benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life.
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” (2 Cor 12:8). “I pleaded with the Lord three times” (v8). Many times when God answers a sincere prayer with a refusal, something much better is given (see next note; Eph 3:20).
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:9).
“My grace is sufficient for you” (v9). Grace is the presence, favour and power of God.
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