Exactly what Paul was referring to when he mentioned the “thorn in his flesh” is something Christians have been trying to figure out for centuries. Some will argue it was a physical ailment. Others will say it was temptation from the devil, guilt, or pain. One article I read insisted the thorn was a demonic angel sent to continually strike Paul with persecution.
Personally, I think it could have been any of these. God didn’t specifically tell us, and we know God’s Word is flawless (Psalm 18:30), so we must consider the exact weakness Paul writes about isn’t what is important. What matters is how he responded.
Paul pleaded with God three times to take the thorn away. This sets an example of how we are supposed to pray. 1 John 5:15 tells us God hears our prayers. When God answered Paul by telling him His grace was sufficient, Paul accepted that God’s way was perfect even if he didn’t understand it. Paul took this as an opportunity to share the story of his weakness so he could also share how it was only by the power of Jesus he could continue.
Many Christians believe once they are saved life will be easy. If something negative happens they try to justify it or figure out why. Just as Job discovered, we do not always get to know why God allows the things He does, but we need to trust God’s ways are far beyond anything we could imagine (Isaiah 55:8). This takes a great deal of faith, which Paul clearly had. Paul knew Christ would answer his call and walk alongside him. He knew because Christ Himself suffered, He could comfort Paul in his misery. He also knew the more comfort he received from Christ, the more he would be able to comfort others. Paul showed us Jesus is enough, regardless of what we are going through.
When God first called me into the ministry, I fought Him. I argued I wasn’t educated enough, I had failed in the past, I was a woman, I was busy. God showed me how through those things, He would be glorified. Because of my weaknesses, I would always remember it was Christ in me who accomplished the things God called me to do.
I pray you realize when you are weak, God is able to show His great and mighty strength through you (2 Corinthians 12:10).