Friday, July 22, 2011

Some Things Are Personal

People love to speculate about what the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” may have been. We see someone as influential as Paul and we cannot help but wonder what weakness or temptation he regularly struggled with. I think perhaps it makes us feel a little more “okay” to know that someone like Paul struggled just as much as we do. It means we’re all human.

I have wondered why Paul never specified what his struggle was. But as I reflected on my own experiences, it began to make a bit more sense to me. There are plenty of things that I’ve struggled with that I am very open about. I certainly never want to give the impression that I’ve got it all figured out. And as I read Paul’s writings, it seems that there were some things in his life that he was very open about as well.

But there was that one thing, the “thorn in the flesh,” that was not shared openly other than to say that it was there. And I can definitely understand that. You see, there is something in my life that I’ve struggled with for quite some time now, something that only my husband and three very close friends have ever heard me speak of in a specific, detailed way. Why? Because it’s personal. Because I’m ashamed of it. Because I’m afraid of what people would say if they knew. Because I’m afraid I would lose friends. Because it’s not always wise to share the details of your biggest struggle with anyone and everyone.

Paul’s struggle may not have been similar to mine (or who knows, maybe it was!). Perhaps, like me, he had a close friend or two who knew what his “thorn” was. But he did not have to share it publicly if he didn’t feel like he had a very good reason to do so. Some things are just personal, and it’s okay to keep them that way.

So that’s my theory on why Paul never specified his struggle in his writings. Can you think of any other possible reasons for this?

1 comment:

  1. You are right. Not everything needs to be public. When they are, sometimes that is all people can remember about you and don't see Christ shining through you. Also, there are some things in Scripture that people get hung up on and will focus on and debate those topics - - causing some conflicts - - - and different denominations - - - rather than persons just showing love and grace . . . . .