“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 Corinthians 12:7).
For the first few years as a Christian, I believed that if you were sick, or if you were praying for someone who had a sickness, the proper way to pray would be to say, “Lord, if it be Thy will…” I prayed that way because that was how I was taught to pray.
While it is true that we must seek the will of God when we pray, we must not use the phrase, “If it be Thy will” as a substitute for knowing His will. God’s Word is His will and as a believer we have a responsibility to know what the Father loves and what He hates. There is no reason why a Christian should not know God’s will concerning health, prosperity, and relationships. All of these areas are addressed clearly in His Word.
When we base our beliefs on what we see or experience, our beliefs will not always line up with the Word of God. At that point, a decision must be made. Either beliefs must be changed to match the Word, or the Word is altered to match our predetermined beliefs. Because of pride, insecurities, and the unwillingness to change, all too often we attempt to change the Word of God. Actually, the Word will always change the heart of the hearer if the hearer has a submissive heart for God. Only a hardened heart resists God’s Word and refuses to believe what God’s Word says.
Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is a perfect example of what I am talking about, which we’ll look at in a moment. But over the years I have heard countless ministers explain that sometimes God heals and sometimes He doesn’t. Some have even been so bold as to say that there are times when it is God’s will that you be sick and diseased. Nothing could be further from the truth.
All through God’s Word His desire has been that His children experience health and healing. When the Hebrews left Egypt, God healed them all (Psalm 105:37). When Jesus entered towns and villages, He healed all who were sick and oppressed (Matthew 9:35). Jesus said that He only did what the Father told Him to do (John 5:19), and we never find one instance where Jesus commanded sickness on someone. Jesus healed eyes and never made anyone blind. He touched deaf ears and people could hear. He caused the lame to walk, but never made anyone lame. Jesus told the woman with the issue of blood, “Your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34 NIV). A touch from Jesus always brought deliverance, healing, and removed pain.
Jesus said that one of the signs of those who follow Him would be that they would lay hands on the sick and the sick would recover (Mark 16:18). There is not one place in the Bible where Jesus ever commanded believers to lay hands on the well and make them sick.
In the book of James, the church is given instructions on what a sick believer should do. A sick believer is commanded to go to the elders and upon being anointed with oil, the prayer of faith would bring healing (James 5:14). There is no record in the Scriptures anywhere of believers being instructed to go to the church and have hands laid on them in order to receive sickness and disease.
Likewise, the church was given nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. One of the gifts is called “gifts of healings,” implying that within that one gift are many gifts and all the gifts contain healing (v. 28). You will find in this listing of nine gifts that there is not a gift called the gift of sickness, there is not a gift called the gift of disease, nor is there a gift called the gift of pain. That’s because God is the giver of good gifts. James 1:17 says that every good gift comes from the Father and then it goes on to say that God never changes. God’s gifts are good, they have always been good, and they will always be good because God does not change.
Cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, tumors, disease, and pain are not good gifts. Therefore, they must not be from God.
Now back to Paul’s thorn. There should be no debate on what Paul’s thorn was because as soon as Paul said that he had a thorn in the flesh, he immediately said what it was. Paul said his thorn was a messenger (angel) from Satan sent to buffet (torment) him, “lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations” (2 Corinthians 12:7). This demonic spirit had an assignment, and this assignment was to create havoc in Paul’s life.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul lists all the things that the enemy did to him, trying to take his life. Paul said he had been put in jail, whipped, faced death, been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, put in prison, left for dead, received forty stripes minus one from the Jews; he also faced danger from robbers, flooded rivers, the Jews, and Gentiles. He faced danger in the cities, in the deserts and on stormy seas, and from men who claimed to be Christians, but were not. He had lived with sleepless nights, been hungry and thirsty, faced cold without enough clothing to keep warm, had been in hunger and thirst, and in cold and nakedness.
Notice that there is not a sickness or a disease in Paul’s list of attacks against him. Rather, he lists the attacks from the angel who had been assigned to him by Satan to destroy his ministry. Make no mistake about it. The devil is a bad devil whose mission statement is to steal from you, to kill you, and to destroy your life and ministry. On the other hand, God is a good God who is using every available method to get blessings and goodness to you.
So the next time you hear someone say, “I wonder what God’s will is?” or “I wonder if God wants to heal me?” open the Word and show them God’s will in His own words. God’s will is healing.