Paul and the thorn in the flesh
Paul admitted that he had asked the Lord to relieve
him of some unnamed affliction and the answer he got back was no. The expression
he used is most commonly translated “thorn in the flesh.”
Readers have been speculating from the earliest days what that affliction might have been. Calvin thought it meant “spiritual temptations.” Luther suggested “opposition and persecution.” Others have proposed lust, epilepsy, eye pain, headaches, a disfigurement or malaria. In truth, no one knows what ailed Paul. We do know, however, that he saw in this human weakness an opportunity for the strength of Christ to be manifest. He went so far as to tell the Corinthians,“I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).