To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Someone once said, “The Christian life is not difficult to live; it is impossible!” How true, apart from the strength of the Almighty! This is one of the primary reasons God allows us to go through the storms of life. When the storm winds are blowing and the waves of challenge are crashing all around us, we can make no progress on our own, no matter how hard we row. That is the point where we are confronted with the reality of our weakness. And in our weakness, God’s power is made perfect—and that, beloved, is when weakness is strength!
God is in the business of showing us our weakness. If He were not, no one could stand to be around us. Spiritual pride and self-righteousness would drive everyone away from us. God showed Moses his weakness when he killed the Egyptian who was beating the Israelite. God showed David his weakness when he should have gone off to war instead of chasing another man’s wife. God showed Peter his weakness in the courtyard when he denied knowing Jesus. And God showed Paul his weakness when he was on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians.
God sends us the storms we need to shift our focus away from ourselves and onto our Savior. Let’s reread 2 Corinthians 12:7; Paul confessed this truth in these words …
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
The Scriptures do not tell us what this “thorn” in Paul’s flesh might have been. But we do know it was sent by God, who is sovereign over all things (Romans 11:36), even the fiery darts of the evil one. God’s purpose was to keep Paul from becoming conceited because of the great ministry God had given to him. Oh, how easy it is for all of us who are in ministry to succumb to our prideful, sinful nature! But God loves us far too much to allow us to go down that self-righteous road. So He sends us exactly the storms or “thorns” we need to remind us that we are weak and He is strong . . . and that His grace is sufficient for us. It was obviously more important to God and far more loving to keep Paul humble than to make him comfortable in his ministry of service. God did not take Paul’s thorn away in order to show him where his strength for ministry truly came from.
So . . . what storms has God sent your way to humble you and keep you focused on Him rather than yourself? Remember, the power of Christ cannot rest on us when we are working in our own strength. So God gives us work we simply cannot do in our own strength. I am living out this truth each day as pastor of Cross Community Church. My prayer is that you will delight in your own weakness, for when you are weak, then you are truly strong!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!