by Terry J. Hallock

Praise for the Pain
Terry J. Hallock
II Corinthians 12:1-10
November 18, 2001
Thanksgiving Sunday

Paul experienced the greatest spiritual high anyone could imagine as he was taken in the Spirit to the highest level of Heaven where he heard "inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." Yet in only a short time following that marvelous and wonderful gift from God Paul was attacked by what he described as a "a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." We are never told what that physical attack was. Some have suggested it was a disease of the eyes while others have speculated that it might have been a cancer. We will never know. What we do know however is that Paul went to the Lord in prayer - not once, but three times - each time asking that the thorn be removed. Yet it was not. It remained in his body.

What was Paul's response to this pain in his flesh? How did he react to the roller coaster ride of emotions of having been allowed to see the hidden things of heaven and then have his flesh pierced by pain that Jesus refused to remove? Did he sink in despair and defeat? Did he course the name of Jesus for refusing to remove the thorn? No! He boasted and delighted in his weakness. He engaged in praise for the pain! "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses. . . I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties." That which the devil meant for harm Paul used for good. The thorn that pierced his flesh became the instrument that resulted in praise.

It is one thing to find a tongue for thanksgiving and praise when we stand on heaven's highest plain touched by abundant blessings and freed from suffering and pain. In many ways you and I can do so today. God gave us the gift of life and this morning He woke us up and put us in our rightful minds. That alone is reason enough for thanksgiving. Yet we were physically able to get out of our homes today and come to God's ...

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