And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Whenever I hear someone preach on this passage, it’s usually something to do with overcoming adversity in our lives. A “thorn” that is hindering us from doing whatever God has called us to do.
But the other day as I was reading this in a daily devotion, God’s answer to Paul stood out. “My grace is sufficient.” “My strength is made perfect.”
It gave me the impression that God’s response was the point of this scenario Paul is telling us about. So I went back over the verses and looked deeper into the context.
Paul has just told about a personal experience which was a bit overwhelming. And then, to keep him from getting the big head, God gives him something to counteract it. What Paul calls a “thorn in the flesh” or a physical issue to make Paul not take himself too seriously.
Now, we’re not told exactly what this issue was, but it bothered Paul enough that he asked God three times to remove it. And that’s when we get God’s answer.
So, looking at what has happened so far, it’s not surprising that we think it’s about overcoming adversity. But look what Paul says after God’s answer. “Power of Christ,” “for Christ’s sake,” and “when I am weak, then I am strong.” He’s not getting less weak or overcoming anything. He’s staying in that condition for a reason.
With that idea in mind, look back at God’s answer. “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Whose weakness? Ours. Whoever God is working through.
As Christians, we get the idea that God gives us chores to do and expects us to go about doing them as best we can. And if we need more resources to do His will, we just ask Him, and He supplies them. But that’s not how God operates.
According to Jesus in John 15, He is the vine and we are the branches. “Without Me you can do nothing.” As branches we may think we can do what God tells us, but we can’t. God tells us what He is going to do and then He does it through us. That may sound like semantic nit picking, but it’s not. As Jesus said, “as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” We are only able to be used of God when we’re attached to Him.
And this brings up the reason for the weakness. If God gave us the power to do things for Him, it would look like we were the ones doing whatever. And we may even start believing we were doing whatever. I think this is the reason behind Paul’s “thorn,” so he would realize it wasn’t himself doing anything, but God.
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Cor 1:27-29.
So God chooses the weak of the world to work through. And if He chooses to work through us and we aren’t weak enough, He may have to whittle us down. Check out the story of Gideon in Judges 7. Gideon started with thirty-two thousand men, and God knocked him down to only three hundred.
You’d think if you were fighting a war you’d want as many men as possible. But if you had that many men, it would be easy to say that’s why you won, not that God did it through you. Since they only used three hundred men, and were severely outnumbered, the only way they were going to win was if God won it for them. And that’s what He did.
That’s why God said His strength was made perfect in our weakness. The world will look at us and realize the things we appear to be doing couldn’t be because of us. There must be something or someone else at work through us. And then we can show them Jesus. As He said, if I am lifted up, I will draw all men to me.
So the question in the title comes back to us. Are you weak enough? Weak enough for God to use? Do you realize that you can do nothing on your own and must rely on Him? Do you trust Him to know and do what’s best through you? Are you willing to be weak in your eyes and those of the world in order for Him to do miraculous things through you?
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7.
Do you know Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? According to scripture, all anyone must do is recognize their sin condition, realize that Christ died to pay for that sin, and ask Him to save them from it. Salvation is a gift of grace we receive by faith. Meet Him today! Contact me at email@example.com if you need more information.
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