Christian Living
A Thorn in the Flesh
Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Dec 27, 2022

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We can't escape trials and difficulties in life. We all face trying circumstances—whether financial hardship, career setbacks, broken relationships, fears, loneliness, or depression. Sometimes, when these troubles persist, we describe them as a "thorn in our flesh." But our daily troubles aren't necessarily "thorns."

When the apostle Paul spoke of the thorn in his flesh, he wasn't talking about the normal trials of life. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, "Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me" (12:7).

Paul recognized that his thorn kept him humble and focused on the Lord.

We don't know what Paul's thorn was. He never called his beatings and imprisonments a thorn; he considered them willing sacrifices for God's Kingdom. His thorn was something completely different—and a great blessing from God. Paul recognized that his thorn kept him humble and focused on the Lord.

God's love for us never changes and never wavers. He pursues us actively and wants us to grow. So when He sees His children become boastful and prideful, He seeks their attention. Sometimes, when nothing else will work, God will permit a thorn to crop up, which He uses as a wake-up call to shift our focus back on Him.

What does a thorn look like? Thorns are unique to every person. What would gain the attention of one person may not bother another. But they all work the same—to bring humility to the person and to bring glory to God

Prayer: Father, help me to stay humble and focused on You. If You see fit to permit a thorn in my life, help me to recognize it and to allow You to use it to humble me and bring glory to Your name. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon The Secrets of Positive Living, Part 14: LISTEN NOW