Opportunity to be strong in weakness
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Elsewhere in this devotional (see Difficulty of unchecked pride), we spoke about how unacceptable it is to our heavenly Father when anyone, and especially any of His children, are full of pride.
Clearly, the apostle Paul was a gifted, effective individual, both brilliant intellectually and multi-skilled. Even more, the Lord personally ushered Paul into some unique (we might call them “heady”) experiences. It is likely that during his years of post-conversion isolation in-and-around Tarsus (cf. Acts 9:30, Galatians 1:11-2:1), Paul met and was personally instructed in the gospel by Jesus himself (Gal.1:12), much like the experience with Jesus the Apostle John would have decades later. 2 Corinthians 12:4 indicates Paul experienced things when caught up into “the third heaven” he was not permitted to speak about on earth.
Yet the Lord knew the downside of such privileged revelation. “Knowledge puffs up,” Paul reminded the Corinthians. And to keep him from pride, Paul’s everyday life was inflicted with a “thorn in the flesh” even “a messenger of Satan to harass” (or buffet) him. Think of it: a living each day battling the headwinds of personal tough stuff…in God’s will.
Paul begged the Lord repeatedly for relief from his abiding weakness. God’s answer was sufficient grace. Why? God’s promise, “My power (through you) is made perfect in weakness.” Made perfect suggests “carried out completely.” Paul not only complied, he boasted in (the idea, “to delight in identifying with”) his hurt, his limitation, his weakness, “that the power of Christ may rest on me.” Yep…this is graduate level spiritual living, but it can also be our opportunity to be strong in the tough stuff.