See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! —Galatians 6:11
Some scholars have suggested that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was that his eyesight was deteriorating. Whether it was partial blindness or not, we do not know. Perhaps it was a disability.
Whatever our thorn in the flesh is, and regardless of whether we have asked for it to be removed (as we surely have), I urge all of us to realize that it is there because God says it is still right for it to be there. It is true that God will use you all the more and all the better because that disability is still there.
I once asked Joni Eareckson Tada, “Would you like to be healed?” I thought she would have a quick answer, because I thought everyone asked her that. But it was as though she had never even thought about it! Finally she said, “Yes, but,” she continued, “the most precious time of my day is when they put me to bed, and I am alone with the Lord. I am so afraid that if I didn’t have this paralysis, I wouldn’t have that intimacy.”
The reward for being patient and not complaining is worth the wait. It is what helps ensure a great reward when you get to heaven. In my opinion, because of this kind of affliction, when one doesn’t complain, the reward will be far, far greater.
The greater the affliction, the greater the reward. The greater the suffering, the greater the anointing. All this is guaranteed if you and I don’t give in to self-pity or complaining.
The thorn in the flesh gives us the possibility of a greater reward than we would have had. The greater the handicap, the greater the impairment, the greater the disability, the greater the reward if we don’t murmur. Here below you may have felt it was a deprivation. In heaven you will say (if I dare use this word), “How lucky I was to have it.” I guarantee that this is the case.
Excerpted from The Thorn in the Flesh (Charisma House, 2004).