by Stephen Whitney

This content is part of a series.

Thorn in the Flesh (5 of 6)
Series: Symbols of Discipleship
Stephen Whitney
II Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul Schneider had cerebral palsy. Walking, talking, eating and dressing require great effort and concentration. Then in 1986 Paul learned that he had cancer. Yet, he continued to radiate joy and he spoke of his physical handicaps as “lifelong but temporary.” He continued to live one day at a time with his physical struggles and to thank God for his spiritual blessings. Most of us would consider living with such physical problems to be among life’s greatest struggles. But Paul saw them differently. With halting speech, he said he had three handicaps – cancer, cerebral palsy and sin.

Referring to what he called “Schneider’s Struggle Scale,” he said, “If I rate my handicaps on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the least difficult), cancer is a 1.5, cerebral palsy is a 4, but sin is a 5.”

We tend to think about our physical problems such as: arthritis cancer, diabetes or heart disease as the greatest struggle we have in our life, but the truth is our sin nature is our greatest problem. We focus on the physical while God focuses on the spiritual. We want to be comfortable while God wants us to be holy.

Romans 5:3-4 We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us.

Chuck Swindoll wrote, “Our suffering, either directly or indirectly, comes from God’s love. He cares for us enough to put us through the refining fire so that we might emerge purer and mature – Christlike.”

The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh.” It was probably a physical limitation, but it helped him control a greater problem – his tendency to pride and self-exaltation. No doubt he viewed his spiritual struggle as his greatest problem as well because his desire was to honor God in every area of his life. SUFFERING AFFLI ...

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