Yesterday I said something in Sunday school that I wish I had not said. Saturday's blog was brought up, and there was discussion on how I had reacted when my laptop was stolen. I was furious when it happened and made the statement yesterday that if I could have had 5 minutes with the person that had committed that crime, it would be hard to pry my fingers from around his neck. I shouldn't have said that, even though that might have been my thought at the time.
We've all done that...said things we wish we could take back. Sometimes we get caught up in the emotions of the moment, or we just don't think through what we are about to say, but it happens. You can't take them back, all you can do is apologize for them and hope the one you have offended can let it go. Sometimes, the things we say are not the result of emotions gone astray, but are instead the result of runaway egos.
That's what we have this morning with Paul. I have to admit, the Old Testement texts this morning just didn't speak to me. But Paul did. 2 Corinthians 12 is where he is at, and the subtitle is "Paul's vision and his thorn." He spent the majority of chapter 11, yesterday's reading, boasting about all of the things he had endured for the cause. Ok Paul, we get it...you had a really hard time...can we move on? But he just keeps on, even one time, saying that what he was doing was speaking as a fool.
But in chapter 12 something happens, well lots of things happen actually. The first is this vision he records. He does it in third person, but there's no doubt that Paul is talking about himself. He talks about being transported to the third heaven where he heard and saw things that he is not allowed to talk about. But then it happened...
...Paul was given a thorn in his flesh so that he would not become conceited. Not just a thorn in his flesh, but a thorn put there by a messenger of satan for the sole purpose of tormenting him. There have been thousands of guesses over time as to what the thorn that Paul is talking about really was, but we have no way of knowing, nor do we really need to.
The more important thing is what this "skolops" or thorn in his flesh did for him...it kept him from becoming conceited. When we become conceited, the foolish talk starts, just like it did for me yesterday. I don't see this thorn in his flesh as a negative thing. Uncomfortable for sure, but not necessarily negative.
Now, we could get into the idea that Paul was being targeted, as was Job, because of his righteousness, but I don't want to go there this morning. Maybe I'll save that for another day. What hit me this morning was the fact that there are things placed in our lives, regardless of their origin, that from time to time redirect our thoughts or steps. And that's not a bad thing.
For me, yesterday, it was a dear friend who called me out on what I had said. It wasn't out of the desire to torment me, but instead, because she knew that I really wouldn't have behaved that way. And I have to say, I'm glad she did. It made me stop and think about how I respond to situations in my life, and sometimes, I need just a little help keeping me straight.
So next time you hear someone talk about their "thorn in their flesh" you can remind them that is never a bad thing, and it won't be just foolish talk.