Summary: The apostle Paul experienced a great deal of pain in his life. He recognized that sometimes Satan brings the pain and sometimes God brings the pain for our own good. He prayed for God to remove the pain, but God said, “My grace is sufficient.” God didn
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Title: The Management of Pain
Text: “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.” (2 Cor. 12:7).
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
From the cradle to the cemetery, we spend much of our existence trying to avoid pain. The longer we live, the more likely it is that we will have physical problems. I know that many of you are sick and hurt. When you get up in the morning your body begins to tell you maybe you should have stayed in bed. So you are all familiar with the topic of our message, because you have all experienced pain. If you watch television commercials, you have probably noticed that many of them offer advice about how to manage pain; they advertise Tylenol, Advil, and a dozen other pain relievers. However, such solutions are only temporary. Some people try to escape pain through drugs and alcohol, but they find that their pain increases rather than disappears. Still others stoically just “grin and bear” their pain. How do you manage pain?
The Scripture reading for our lesson is 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “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. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The apostle Paul experienced a great deal of pain in his life. He recognized that sometimes Satan brings the pain and sometimes God brings the pain for our own good. He prayed for God to remove the pain, but God said, “My grace is sufficient.” God didn’t remove the pain; therefore Paul used all possible resources for the removal of pain in his life. Our lesson today is going to center on how the great man of God dealt with pain.
First, let’s see that Paul experienced great pain (2 Cor. 12:7-9; Gal. 4:12-13).
He said that his pain came from a “thorn in the flesh.” There are several theories about the nature of his “thorn in the flesh.”Some people have speculated that it was a form of recurring malaria that produced serious headaches. Others have speculated that it was a form of epilepsy that resulted from his temporary blindness during his conversion experience. Still others have proposed that it was a painful eye problem. The Bible supports this theory more than the others, for Paul wrote in Galatians 4:15, “For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.”
Paul may have had a disease that was common at this time, which caused the eyes to water constantly, and gave those who had it a shocking appearance. And in Galatians 6:11, Paul wrote, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!” It is a characteristic of those with poor eye sight to write with large letters. In any case, Paul experienced great suffering because of his “thorn in the flesh.”
In 2 Corinthians (11:16-33), Paul did something that he considered very foolish. His congregation was in danger of being led astray, so he boasted about himself, even though it ran against the grain of every fiber of his being. The Corinthians were accepting the preaching of false apostles, so he decided to boast about himself, to remind them of how he became an apostle of Jesus Christ and of all that he endured because of it. But first, he cautioned that what he was about to say was not from the Lord, because he would not let anyone think that boasting was something that the Lord approved of. He told them about being born to a well-to-do family, where he received the best education. He also mentioned his pure Jewish ancestry and that he was an expert in Jewish law. Then he related that he was not an ordinary minister, but was an apostle of Christ. He said that he had suffered greatly for Christ, and this is what he gloried in, or rather he gloried in the grace of God which enabled him to endure such suffering. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and for that reason the Jews hated him and they caused much of his suffering.