. . . 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 aaway from me.  But he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Theefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so the 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.  2Corinthians 12:7b-10

   It interests me that Paul called his thorn in the flesh a messenger of Satan.  How often do we, in this post-modern culture, give credit where credit is due.  Many of our hardships are direct attacks from Satan and his angels.  God allows our diffictulties, our hardships, and our thorns in the flesh for His own purposes, but we must not make the mistake of thinking of them as from God or think that he has abandoned us because we are experiencing a dark time.

  I think our response to difficulties and hardships should first be an examination of the heart.  Is this the result of some choice I’ve made that has opened the door for Satan to reign is this area of my life.  If the answer is no, then God has allowed the pain to produce character and fruit and we need to learn how to “delight in our weaknesses, hardships, insults, etc.”  Ouch . . . easy to say, tough to do.

  The second thing that interests me is the personalization in , “But he said to me, My grace is sufficients for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I struggle with the concept of keeping my eyes on my own journey and not comparing it with others.  I am constantly fighting (and often losing) the urge to ask. Why does that person get healing or deliverence and I still have to live here, I still have to struggle under this load?  But today I noticed that this statement is very personal.  His grace is sufficient for me.  That is all He promised, not that He would make my life look like someone else’s.  And really, shouldn’t I be grateful for grace at all from God when it is so much more than I deserve, instead of constantly questioning the trappings of the grace He’s chosen to extend to me?

  The last comment I have about this passage is that we are so much more comfortable when we operate from our strengths – when we serve and minister out of strength.  The challange for us is to be willing to be used in our weakness so that Christ’s power may be manifested in us.  God gave us strengths to use for his kingdom, no question, but I wonder how much more we could accomplish if we let God use our weaknesses as well.  And what if we then boasted about our weaknesses to others as a testimony of what God can do when we are obedient?

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