Even though the Apostle Paul was greatly used of God and experienced a vision of heaven, he was still haunted by what he called "a thorn in the flesh" (II Corinthians 12:7). The Greek word for thorn here is skolops, meaning anything sharp or pointed which can produce pain. "Thorn" can even mean a "stake", so perhaps Paul's thorn was not just a splinter so to speak but a horrific stake or dagger in his flesh. What exactly was his thorn? Some people have speculated that his thorn was a physical illness such as a vision problem or even malaria. Pastor John MacArthur believes this was an actual person, a demonic fellow who hounded Paul's ministry. Whatever or whoever it was, Paul said his thorn was a "messenger of Satan" which humbled him and kept him from exalting himself.
As a matter of fact, the thorn caused so much distress that Paul prayed earnestly three times that God would take it away (II Corinthians 12:8). Yet, the thorn remained, continuing to haunt, continuing to torment.
Consequently, instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul something greater, that was, the grace and power to live with the thorn. As a result, Paul began to actually list the thorn as an asset, seeing how God's "power is perfected in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9). So, in reality this messenger of Satan had a paradoxical or opposite effect. Instead of weakening Paul and his ministry, it helped him discover God's power in a new way.
Hence, what should we do when confronted with a thorn, whether a physical ailment, emotional distress, financial hardship, etc.? First of all, pray earnestly for God to remove it. Nothing wrong with that. Secondly, and most importantly, pray that God will reveal His power in the midst of the thorn. Thus, in whatever outcome, we may be able to say with Paul, that "when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:10).