2 Corinthians 12:10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God's work on our own, and that can lead to pride. When we are weak, allowing God to fill us with his power, then we are stronger than we could ever be on our own. God does not intend for us to be weak, passive, or ineffective—life provides enough hindrances and setbacks without us creating them. When those obstacles come, we must depend on God. Only his power will make us effective for him and will help us do work that has lasting value.
We do not know what this thorn was, but the best suggestion is an eye ailment. Galatians 4:15 andGalatians 6:11 ("with what large letters") suggest eye trouble. This would have been a trial to Paul both physically and emotionally, and could honestly be called a thorn (stake) in the flesh. (Sometimes prisoners were impaled on stakes and left to die a horrible death.) Whatever the thorn was, it was a burden to him, and it brought pain. He asked to have it removed.
Commentator Warrer Wiersbe shares several very practical lessons to be learned from Paul’s experience with the thorn:
(1) Spiritual blessings are more important than physical ones. Paul thought he could be a better Christian if he were relieved of his weakness, but just the opposite was true.
(2) Unanswered prayer does not always mean the need is not met. Sometimes we get a greater blessing when God does not answer our prayers! God always answers the need even though it seems He is not answering the prayer.
(3) Weakness is strength if Christ is in it. Remember Gideon’s pitchers, David’s sling, and Moses’ rod.
(4) There is grace to meet every need. Grace enabled Paul to accept his weakness, glory in it, and take pleasure in it! Paul knew that his weakness would bring glory to Christ, and that is all that mattered.
Author Bob Gass says, that at first this verse doesn't seem to make sense. We want to be freed from our weaknesses, not boast about them!
But Paul gives us several reasons you may not have considered:
(1) Your weakness prevents arrogance. Paul writes, "So I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations" (2 Corinthians 12:7 TM). You'll often find a major weakness attached to a major strength, acting as a governor to keep us from getting exalted, or running ahead of God. Gideon chose 32,000 men to fight the Midianites. But God reduced his numbers to 300, making the odds 450 to 1. Why? So that Israel would know that it was God's power and not their own that saved them.
(2) Your weakness produces fellowship. While strength can breed an independent spirit ("I don't need anybody else"), our weakness shows us how much we need each other. When we weave the weak strands of our lives together, a rope of great strength is created. Vance Havner said, "Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic."
(3) Your weakness creates compassion and ministry to others. People actually find healing in your wounds. Your greatest message and your most effective ministry will usually come out of your most difficult experiences. The things you're most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, most reluctant to share, are the very tools God can use most powerfully to help others.
"Lord, I am so thankful for Your faithfulness in spite of my faithlessness at times. When I am facing a 'thorn in my flesh' you are teaching me to keep trusting You and know that some how, some way, You will make the situaiton beautiful in Your time. Thank You for what You are teaching me. In Jesus' name, amen!"
Monday, March 5, 2012
Posted by Rusty L. Blann at 12:01 AM