December 28, 2021
Scripture: 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. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV
Observation: Writing of his out-of-body vision of entering into paradise and of hearing spiritual matters that he was not permitted to speak to others (verses 2-5), Paul explains that the Lord graciously allowed “a messenger of Satan” to disturb his prideful, self-reliant thoughts. How? Paul does not go into detail but only uses the metaphor of a thorn in his flesh—an irritant that was not life-threatening but an ongoing distraction. Paul adds that he pleaded three times to find relief, but to no avail. In each instance, the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul’s mind and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Takeaway: This mystery of our faith played an important part in helping Paul persevere through trials (a long list of which he cites in chapter 11). He knew this same grace of Christ that brought reconciliation with the Father extends to the here and now. It is our means of finding rest for our weary souls and for arresting our fears (Matthew 11:28). It is a grace that exposes and convicts us of our worldly, prideful thoughts so that we might better understand God’s good, perfect, pleasing will (Romans 12:2). And lastly, it is a grace that transforms our weaknesses into strengths and instills contentment: “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” (verse 10). Thus, Paul rejoices (“boasts all the more gladly”) in his weakened state, knowing that the power of Christ rests on him (verse 9). Indeed, when we press through our pain with our Lord’s sufficient grace, we too witness the power of Christ to our pain-avoidant world.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for pouring out your sufficient grace on us in bringing about our salvation and in delivering us from the power of sin that so easily entangles us amid our pain and suffering. Would you please help us to appropriate your grace when your Holy Spirit extends it to us, that we might reveal your Son’s power to others through our weaknesses? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling