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, NIV 1984).
My Musings – A troubling passage, while at the same time an encouraging passage.
The troubling part? “There was given me…a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Given by whom? Not explicitly stated, but implicitly it was God. A hard pill to swallow, until we understand the encouraging part.
The encouraging part? Actually several. To prevent sin, in Paul’s case conceit. God’s grace is sufficient to see us through. It strengthens us through Christ’s power. It glorifies God. In Paul’s case, instead of boasting about himself, He boasts about Christ.
In Paul’s case? Actually, not so unique to Paul. We’ve seen this before (Job, Habakkuk, Joseph) in the Bible. It will happen to you and me. “In this world you will have trouble [the troubling part]. But take heart! I have overcome the world [the encouraging part].” (John 16:33, NIV 1984). The question is will we, like Paul, “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties?” Not if our focus is on the troubling part instead of the encouraging part.
My Advice – It’s okay to pray for God to remove the trouble. He will not always do so. He didn’t for Paul. In those cases, we must remember that His grace is always sufficient to perfect our weaknesses through His power. Joseph, like Paul understood this. “You [whatever agency Satan employs] intended to harm me, but God intended it [permitted it] for good.” (Genesis 50:20, NIV 1984). What good? All good. For “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV 1984).