“I was given a thorn in my flesh.” [2 CORINTHIAN 12:7]
Do you have a thorn in your flesh today? It seems like forever people have referred to their addiction, struggle, weakness, character flaw, or any ongoing consistent pain in life as a thorn in the flesh. For some of you it is your marriage, attitude, temper, or your pride.This lack of humility keeps you from the very best God may have for your life. For many the struggle with sexual purity is the thorn in their flesh. You have been fighting this battle for years and just when you think you have porn conquered it lunges at your throat for another kill.
It seems to be true that this is the number 1 most destructive issue in people’s lives today. It plays out in adultery, fantasy, emotional unfaithfulness, masturbation…and the list goes on. Why hasn’t God heard our prayers and removed this thorn of the flesh from our lives? Why did he not remove the struggle in Paul’s life over the years?
In Daniel 3, is the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These three men stood strong for God and refused to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar. The King was furious with there rebellion and threatened to kill them by throwing them into a furnace (sounds horrible to me!) The men respond to the King: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” [DANIEL 3:16-18]
Their faith was solid. They believed that God would rescue them. If they were obedient to God and asked him for help He would surely save them from certain death. However, in verse 18 they say that “even if he doesn’t” save them they will continue to be obedient to God. Even if their prayers are not answered the way they asked it would not effect their commitment to fight the fight, to maintain maintain allegiance to God and His ways.
They understood that God is not under obligation to remove the struggle, the pain, or the conflict. “If He does not” we continue to fight the fight and lean into obedience. We do not give in to the temptation. If the struggle must continue the rest of our lives we declare allegiance to God.
For Paul, the ongoing struggle proved helpful in developing him into God’s man.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” [2 CORINTHIANS 12:7]
In the midst of the struggle for purity we must remember that we are unable to win by our own power or discipline. It is essential that we learn in the struggles of our lives that we can do nothing without God. Sometimes it is the struggle that actually catapults our faith. In the struggles we learn how to live dependent on Him.
Don’t give up today “if he does not” remove the struggle for sexual purity. He will grow you and use you despite your weakness.