Thinking Today on Paul’s “Thorn…” Why does God Deliver/heal some and not others?…

It’s not a matter of favoritism. It’s not a matter of impotence, that He doesn’t have the power. It’s not a matter of indifference, that He doesn’t care. But of Sovereignty! He has the right to exercise His choices and does not have to explain Himself to anyone! It is God behaving as God! But even if He does not choose to deliver, heal,He is so kind and gives us a promise of Hope,“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”-{Romans 8:28}. What a Promise. God is working bringing all things under His control and weaving them together for good, and the good ultimately is conforming us to the image of Christ-{v29}. He is in control, Sovereign. Note the last five letters- “…REIGN,” He rules, He Reigns and He imparts a promise of Hope to us that HE IS INVOLVED, INTIMATELY so.

At times someone might say, “I don’t know why God doesn’t heal” as if that is the only option and highest purpose available to God. That is part of the problem, we falsely believe God has to deliver, heal! And if He doesn’t we can be devastated, disappointed, even becoming disillusioned because God has not done what we believe He should do!And even going so far to look around to find someone to blames because as one man once said, it has to be that a person doesn’t have enough faith! How cruel and Un-Biblical that is. He believed that Jesus healed everyone when He was on earth… therefore He heals everyone and if someone is not healed it is because they don’t have enough faith. So it must be “their” problem, their fault, their deficient faith! The man had started from a false concept, carried it over and viewed life, namely healing and deliverance from his false concept. And the damage such a false concept can have on others! The false belief that God HAS TO Heal- as though that is ALWAYS His will, they never think He may have some other way in mind! But to hold that false concept and if He does not heal – we cannot understand!

We don’t have to understand. But we can trust Him, though at times it may be through tears, and pain. He does as He pleases and always with purpose whether we know or understand why. And we see from Scripture as we renew our mind to align with His according to His Word that, as we are “…being transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable {Pleasing} and perfect.“-{Romans 12:2}

Timothy is called “Man of God” in 1 Timothy 6:10 and yet we read of his“frequently illnesses,”{1 Timothy 5:23}. Yet his “frequent illnesses,” did not stop him from serving others by laying his life down to prefer others and promote the Gospel and spiritual growth of believers. Paul at one stage noted concerning Timothy, “… For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 2For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father..”-{Phil 2:21-22}. Paul commends him for his “genuine welfare”  and his seeking after the “interests of Christ,” unlike those who sought after their “own interests, not those of Christ.” Sickly yes, but it did not stop him from being a ..servant to others, because he was a servant of Christ! 

We also read of one of God’s purposes in Paul’s life in not delivering him from his painful “thorn” in 2 Cor:12:7.-That Paul would be kept humble and we go on to see that though he asked the LORD to remove the painful “thorn” three times the response he got was “My grace is sufficient…my power is made perfect in weakness…”  God was giving him sufficient grace moment by moment grace, to empower him and His power would be unleashed in Paul’s weakness! We love the idea of power, not so much weakness, as weakness makes us what? Helpless, in need…Dependent! And this is where God would have us- dependent upon Him, because it is the safest place to be dependent upon God!

The Godly perspective we need to have is what Paul said in Philippians 1;20- “…but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” “Christ exalted, magnified, glorified” in my body whether I live or die-This is the GOAL! This is the Biblical perspective we need to have and this we will have as we renew our mind to align up with His mind for us- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”-{Read Romans 12:2}

Timothy had “Frequent illnesses” and God did not heal him. Paul was not delivered from his excruciating Pain. Yet they were both Greatly used by God and Influential in the lives of countless people, and their lives still speak today from the pages of Scripture! They exalted, magnified glorified God with the bodies they had despite their difficulties, infirmities!

Consider…” and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.”-{2 Timothy 4:20};

Spurgeon wrote, “But Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick.” 2 Timothy 4:20

“From the fact that Paul left Trophimus at Miletus sick, we learn that it is the will of God that some holy men should be sick. Whatever the malady may have been which affected Trophimus, Paul could certainly have healed him if God had permitted him. Paul had raised up Eutychus from death, and he had given the use of his limbs to the cripple at Lystra.

Not so, however, had the Lord willed; the good fruit-bearing vine must be pruned–and Trophimus must suffer. There were holy ends to be answered by his sickness, which could not be compassed by his health. Instantaneous restoration could have been given, but it was withheld under divine direction.

This doctrine leads us away from the vain idea of chance. We are not wounded by arrows shot at a venture–but we smart by the determinate counsel of the God of Heaven. An overruling hand is everywhere present–preventing or permitting affliction. No one shaft of disease is ever let fly by stealth, from the bow of death. It was a wise providence which selected Trophimus to be sick.

We cannot always see the hand of God in providence, but we may be always sure that it is there. If not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father–then surely not a child of the divine family is laid low without His sacred will. Chance is a base heathenish idea, which cannot live in the presence of an everywhere present, living, and working God. Away with it from every Christian mind! It is alike dishonoring to the Lord–and grievous to ourselves!

Also, we may not think a shade the less of Trophimus because he is sick at Miletus; he is probably a far better man than any of us, and perhaps for that very reason he is more tried.
There is gold in him, which pays for putting into the crucible;
he bears such rich fruit, that he is worth pruning;
he is a diamond of so pure, that he will repay the lapidary’s toil. ” -{CH Spurgeon}

Paul wrote, “…But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;  because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.”-{Philippians 2:25-27}. God did heal Epaphroditus, He had mercy upon him and Paul, some might say “see God did heal him.” But how did He get sick if as some say God doesn’t want a Christian to be sick.” If that was the case Timothy, Trophimus, Epaphroditus would never have been sick, but to believe that is not only not Scriptural it is to miss the point of despite their illness, they were used by God, his servants investing their lives in others for Jesus sake. Look how Paul describes Epaphroditus whom he is sending him back to the believers, “Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;  because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.”-{Phil 2:29-30}. ” Receive him in the LORD with all Joy…Hold men like him in HIGH REGARD” Why? ” Because he came close to death   FOR{this gives the explanation}… The Work of Christ!” How did he do this? “Risking his life…” the word”Risking” is a gambling term it means to roll the dice, bet it all all…He was God’s gambler, gambling his life on and for Jesus Christ!! 

Perhaps you are at this moment reading this and nor in perfect health for one reason or another, and consider ourselves to be deficient in your ability to “serve the LORD,” but do not allow the lies of the evil one to discourage or divert you, for you are where He would have you and like Timothy, Trophimus, Epaphroditus and Paul continue to be of service to the LORD Jesus. Paul was in prison though shut in he was not shut out from praying and he would not shut up from making Christ known and encouraging the believers-{Read Phil 1:12-14}. Think about the missionary to India Amy Carmichael who for years was bedridden, yet from a sick bed took in girls, had an orphanage, wrote countless books and hymns that are still been read and sang today. Or what about Joni Eareckson Tada a quadriplegic, but is known for her love for Christ and the amount of good works she is doing for countless others, using her circumstances to advance the Gospel!  All these influenced and are still influencing countless people for the Kingdom of God through their sufferings, illnesses! All these Exalted, Magnified, Glorified Christ in the body they had! And so can you! The same  Spirit of God that did and is empowering them will empower you. The same Sufficient Grace and power made perfect in weakness is available to you! You can do “all things through Christ who infuses you with strength!”-{Read Phil 4:13}

Our call is to trust Him and seek to know Him better, honor Him and share of Him. We don’t have to understand, we need to Trust Him that He is undertaking what He deems best for us, His kingdom, others, His Glory! “…For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your BODY“-{1 Cor 6:20} “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”-{1 Cor 10:31}. Glorify God in your body…Do all that you do for His glory… that Christ be exalted, magnified, glorified in your …BODY, whether by life or by death!

Consider JESUS words to Peter, “…’Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” (John 21:18-19). Note, THE GLORY OF GOD, even in our dying is what is important.

That God be magnified, exalted, glorified in our bodies whether we live or die- Is the GOAL!

If that means healing, wonderful, if not, it may be hard but by His empowering Spirit within us we can exalt magnify, Glorify Jesus Christ in our bodies, Because as we have read, His GRACE {Empowerment} IS- {present tense sufficient.} His POWER is unleashed- made perfect in our weakness, and we can Exalt, magnify, GLORIFY God in our bodies! We have the Power of the Holy Spirit to enable us and His “precious and magnificent promises” to encourage us and apply in our circumstances- {Read Phil 2:13; 2 Peter 1:3-4}

I love this verse, “The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.”-{Psalm 135:6}.


He does what HE PLEASES, when HE PLEASES, always as HE Pleases and it is for His Honor! He is good, loving, all-wise, and has a purpose, His highest aim, His glory. He has a right to do what He wants with His creation, He Created us, unfortunately we try and “recreate” Him in our minds to be who we would want Him to be! But He cannot be toppled, for He is Sovereign KING, He doesn’t co-share His Throne, He sits alone upon it, not as a figure-head but as GOD! He does what pleases Him!

Paul’s response upon being told his painful “thorn” would not be removed was to exercise CONFIDENCE in Christ. CELEBRATE the sufficiency and provision of Jesus Christ. And be CONTENT with Christ! – {Read 2 Cor 1:9-10}. And this Paul exhibited while been told the “thorn” would not be removed! Surely we would have done that if we had been delivered, healed… but here is a man who chooses to respond this way upon being told he would not have the painful “thorn,” removed.

THE MEANING OF THE WORD “THORN;”  Did you know the word “thorn” was used to describe an instrument used to impale or torture someone! So, when he speaks about a “thorn,” he is not speaking about a little sliver of wood that got under his skin, that was irritating more than anything else. He was in PAIN- Real  EXCRUCIATING PAIN and he wanted to be delivered, “But God…” had a different plan for him, and he had purpose for him in his pain- DIVINE PURPOSE, PERSONAL PURPOSE AND PURPOSE FOR OTHERS through Paul’s “Thorn” and how God would use it and him! God was being God in Paul’s life!

Paul’s response is an example to us all! But we need more than an example, we need Empowering, and this GOD has done in supplying us the Holy Spirit, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”-{Philippians 2:13 NLT}   And Sufficient GRACE that IS  present tense to empower Paul – {2 Cor 12:9} and He responds by Boasting, glorying in his weakness because of what He knows.

The “Thorn” is God’s doing. The passage says  was “given ” to him. That is the word, “grace, gift!”- {2 Cor 12:7}

He has sufficient grace – {v8}

He has Power in his weakness -{v8}


Here are two other verses that give good insight...Paul in 2 Timothy 3:11 was “Delivered from”... In  2 Corinthians 12;9 was “Sustained in…” both different experiences, Sometimes God “delivers from…” Sometimes He “sustains us in”…as Paul shows in these verses…. either way His choice, His right, and takes wisdom, love, and grace for either one… These two principles can be seen in various other passages, and can be a great comfort…. knowing God is in control…and it’s not a deficiency of faith, prayers, but a manifestation of Divine Sovereignty!

Let God be God!