The phrase “thorn in your side/flesh”. Interestingly enough is only in the Bible twice. As I did my study and prayed about this phrase; I began to gain understanding.
Notably, the term is used to describe a continuous issue/problem. A problem which annoys a person and there seems to be no relief. Theologians and scholars debate regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
Some suggestions regard poor eyesight, difficulty speaking clearly, a recurring illness or some facial disfigurement. Other suggestions speak literally of a messenger of satan which God allowed to keep Paul humble.
Still, some refer to physical ailment which Paul had received as he had been imprisoned, stoned, beaten, and shipwrecked.
“…especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me.”
The other time the phrase was used is in Numbers:
“But if you don’t drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, those you allow to remain will become thorns in your eyes and in your sides; they will harass you in the land where you will live.“
In this particular case; the Israelites encountered Canaanites while trying to obtain the Promised Land which God had chosen for them.
The lifestyles of the Canaanites made life more difficult for the Israelites. Once again the chosen people of God did not live according to the laws and commandments which God had given them.
Similarly, my thought is Paul’s thorn, despite his burning passion to spread the gospel; some people he encountered would rather live for themselves.
Paul’s love for the Father and his desire for others to know God’s love; I believe as he encountered those unwilling to listen or receive caused him to anguish.
Much like the Israelites not always living the way God intended often caused them to anguish. Which ultimately caused our heavenly Father angst, however, His love never stops and He never gives up.
We all have a thorn in our side. However, we are to learn how to deal with it.
We need to give thanks in all things and continual be focused on God.
The more our focus is on His will and what He wants for us; the less our thorn’s presence is known.
Written by: Michael La Tulippe