“There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” – 2 Corinthians 12:7
Apostle Paul didn’t give us much to go on with “a thorn in the flesh,” other than to say it is from the messenger of Satan. Maybe Paul meant to be so vague, because each person has his or her own thorn in the flesh. For you, it might be an addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, sex, food, watching too much TV, being on the phone and/or computer too much, etc.(and don’t tell me you didn’t have or currently don’t have an addiction, because I won’t believe you!). Or it might be a person who is just a thorn in your side (flesh and heart, too). Or it might be a situation you have prayed about over and over and still have not received the answer you are looking for. Let’s go deeper with this, way further than the flesh, right through the bones and the muscles, all the way to the heart!
The whole “thorn in my flesh” came about from a workbook I am completing on getting to know the heart of Jesus Christ. When the question was posed to me, “What is the thorn in your flesh?” I kinda’ drew a blank. I had some ideas about many thorns in my flesh but I couldn’t pick just one. It was only when I wrote a God Sonnet this morning (https://timothyjverret.blog/2020/10/16/thorn/) that these words showed up:
The thorn in my flesh is not the pin prick. It IS the flesh.
That right there told me that whether it’s one thorn or many thorns in my flesh, the thorns are not the problem; it is the flesh that is the problem. It is what I call “fleshly living,” living my life by the ego, living for my own selfish gain, living life the way I want life to be and go. I’m talking about living by the flesh and NOT the Spirit (Galatian 5:16). If I live by the flesh, nothing in this world will satisfy me….NOTHING! Trust me….I pursued this for many, many years and it was dismal failure at best! But if I choose to live by the Spirit, I am FREE! Free from worries, free from confusion, just flat-out FREE! But what a challenge this is, right? The world tells us, by all means, to satisfy ourselves through our experiences of pleasure and comfort. The world basically poses this question to us: “You want to feel good, right? Well, then, I am the world and I have everything you need!” WRONG!!!! The world does not have one single thing we need. Because more money, more fame, more success, more clothes, more cars, and ad nauseum, will only make us more unhappy, more dissatisfied, more disgruntled, more disappointed. And the way I look at this is, “The more you gain, the more you stand to lose!” But with Spirit, we gain Love, Patience, Peace, Joy, Goodness, Gentleness, Kindness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control (Galatians 5:22). And we can’t buy any of these; we can only get these through the Spirit, the fleshless and priceless Spirit (unless you count the price paid by Jesus Christ for our lives).
Thorns hurt! They cause us a lot of physical pain. But it’s the psychological pain from the thorns that keeps us up at night. It’s the penetration of the thorn through the flesh to the bones and to the heart that really is the “ouch!” And nothing can hurt us like a pin prick that the world sticks into us. The loss of money, the loss of a job, the loss of a friend, the loss of a child. I’m not saying we shouldn’t grieve over these losses. I’m just saying the attachment to these is what often nearly kills us when we lose them. It’s the “possession,” the “it’s mine!” When we hold on to these things so tight, we are devastated and often beyond repair when these very same things vanish from our lives. It’s inevitable that they will vanish, not necessarily because we or someone else has done something wrong for the disappearance but simply because we and they are “timed.” We and they are not forever! And I’m not really trying to promote God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit (although, if I’m being honest, I kinda’ am), but I really want to promote the messages of this world that tells us we will be happy when we get this, have that, get this more, have this more. “More” is a dangerous word because there are no limits to it. For example, anyone who wants more money will, if he or she is being honest, tell you they really don’t know how much more they really want. They just know they want more.
“Thorny flesh.” Living by the flesh is always going to be thorny, but living by the Spirit promises to be thornless. You can prick the flesh but you can’t prick the Spirit. The Spirit is “prick-less” (sorry for that wording). No one can stick your spirit but they sure can stick your flesh. And we know this is true because we have all been stuck by someone or something, and we know how much that hurts. But we got a painless Spirit inside of us waiting for our call. And it really is as simple as a hotel phone call. Just pick up the phone, make the call to the Spirit, and get yourself free from the world and all its crazy and totally misinformed messages of assured happiness. Fleshly living ain’t got nothing to do with sustained happiness but rather and often enough just sustained misery. But Spirit living is sustainment of happiness and the promise of sustained and great FREEDOM!
-Timothy J. Verret, Creative Marketing Rep
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