What the Bible Doesn’t Say

uploads-14115120538776712c565-a699942aI was talking to some friends about healing when the subject of Paul’s thorn in the flesh came up. (Read what the Bible has to say about it.)

“I like to think it was panic attacks,” I said.

Another girl piped up across the room: “Or an eating disorder.”

We all laughed as we identified with Paul in that moment, but it was a serious conversation. We all have things we struggle with—sins and issues that come up time and time again, even after we’ve given them to God, sometimes repeatedly.

It’s not uncommon for people to debate Paul’s thorn and guess at what it was. More than once, I’ve discussed it with people who have expressed frustration that Scripture isn’t more explicit, telling us exactly what it was and why he wrestled with it.

But I think that was on purpose. If we knew what that thorn was, it would be harder for us to relate, to put ourselves in Paul’s place and wrestle with it the way he did, to be encouraged by the words, “My grace is sufficient for you” even when our prayers are answered with a miraculous healing or our own personal thorns.

So take heart. Be encouraged by what the Bible doesn’t say about Paul’s suffering and use his story to find meaning and purpose in your own difficult times.

And just like God doesn’t explain Paul’s thorn, he often does offer us explanations either. But through Paul, we learn there’s greater purpose for our suffering, something much bigger than our own pain. Our suffering unites us with Christ. After all, God didn’t take the cup from him, either.