– 2 Cor 12:9
Our Thorn in the Flesh
The Apostle Paul had a problem…it could have been a physical or a mental issue with the Jews who hounded him everywhere he went. All we know for sure is that “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2nd Cor 12:7) and so Paul says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me” (2nd Cor 12:8) but what was God’s answer? Paul writes that the Lord said “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” (2nd Cor 12:9). Paul wanted that power of Christ to rest upon him but first he had to accept his thorn in the flesh and his own weakness.
God’s Power, Our Weakness
God cannot show his power in us if we’re already full of ourselves and that’s the reason that God allowed Paul’s thorn in the flesh to remain, and so he wrote, “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” (2nd Cor 12:10). When he was at his weakest, God could be at His strongest. The power of God cannot rest upon the self-sufficient but only on the weakest.
The Sufficiency of Christ
For Paul, he was content even with “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.” It was “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11), rather, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:12). In learning how to be content, meaning it didn’t come naturally to Paul, just as it doesn’t come naturally to us, he had to learn it and by learning to be content in all circumstances, he realized “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). The opposite of that must also be true; we can’t do anything without Christ (John 15:4).
When we are going through a physical or mental trial, just wait. Wait for God’s strength to be displayed in our weakness because His strength can only be displayed in weak vessels, not vessels who feel sufficient in their own selves. We can do all things in Christ Who will strengthen us but we can do nothing in our own strength of lasting value.