2 Cor 12:7 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. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 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. NKJV
The following is my understanding about Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12.
A simple analogy would be of a parent giving a small child a spoon to eat their meal with. When the child asks to be fed, the parent tells them to use their spoon for the food in front of them. As the Bible says, healing is the children’s bread (Mark 7:27). Psalm 103 says that one of our benefits is that He heals ‘all of our diseases’. When we are told God’s grace is sufficient, as believers we have as our utensil (sword) the Word of God. Psalm 107:20 says that he sent His Word and healed them. We too can send the Word of God to ourselves and to others.
The Bible clearly says in 2 Corinthians 12 that the thorn in the flesh was a messenger of Satan. I and other Christians (see note below) take that to mean the messenger of Satan was a demon. A basic part of Christianity is that there is a devil going around as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. We are told to resist the devil and that he will flee from us. We can do this every day by the grace of God. It is understood that we cannot simply pray and ask God to forever remove the devil, demons and temptation out of our lives in this age we live in. We have a part in not giving the enemy any opening or place in our lives. We have been given authority to resist the devil and to command him to leave our lives and the lives of others. There is victory in Jesus. Greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. We see in Acts 10:38 how Jesus was anointed of the Holy Spirit and healed all who were oppressed of the devil. We see in Acts 3 that Peter, did not pray asking for the man to be healed, but rather simply commanded the man to rise in the Name of Jesus.
While we want to be sympathetic and compassionate toward people who are going through trouble and sickness, as a Christian, I am not going to cross out or negate any promises in the Bible because of anyone’s experience. I am not going to say that God took them home early; John 10:10 clearly says that it is the thief who is killing, stealing and destroying. Jesus Christ has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. My goal is to encourage them in the Word of God, speak Words of life and to pray for them. God in is His sovereignty stands behind everyone of His promises clearly given to us in the Bible, the Word of God. Just as we can pray for people to be saved but cannot force them to be saved, we recognize that individuals have a part in receiving healing by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
I do not read God saying ‘no’ in 2 Corinthians 12. In 2 Corinthians 1:20 we are told ‘all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen’
Note: See ‘Christ The Healer’ by FF Bosworth, Chapter 6 ‘What was Paul’s “Thorn”?’
and ‘Healing The Sick’ by T.L. Osborn, Chapter 37, ‘Three Questions About Paul’s Thorn’ and Chapter 38 ‘Food for Thought on Paul’s Thorn’
1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. NKJV
Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? NKJV
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. NKJV
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. NKJV
2 Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. NKJV
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you NKJV