A Thorn in the Flesh

A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
A Thorn in the Flesh
The prophet David confesses that he, too, had to learn the same thing: "I said in my prosperity: 'I shall never be defeated.' But when You hid Your face, I was terrified" (Psalm 30:6-7). St. Paul laments the great suffering he endured in Asia when he says: "We do not want you to be ignorant, dear brothers, of the affliction we encountered in Asia. We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we gave up on life itself, and we had concluded that we had to die. But that happened so that we would not place our trust on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). He says that a thorn was given him in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to beat him with fists, to keep him from becoming conceited because of the high revelation. God did not want to take that away from him, even though he pleaded three times about it, but he had to cling to the comfort of God's words that he should be satisfied with His grace and through it overcome his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Therefore, this testing of the saints is necessary, and even more necessary than eating and drinking, so that they may remain in fear and humility and learn to cling only to God's grace.

From the Church Postil, sermon for Epiphany 1 on Luke 2:41-52 (Luther's Works 76:198)
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