2 Corinthians 12:7 Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul has been talking about the incredible revelations God had given him related to things of the spirit. However, in this passage he mentions a “thorn… in the flesh” and “a messenger of Satan”. The natural question that comes to mind is, “What is he talking about?”
Scholars think it may have been some kind of physical problem – an illness or disease or injury that plagued him. He could also be referring to people who persecuted him or challenged his claim as an apostle. We just don’t know. However, we do know that Paul learned to embrace his weaknesses, “whenever I am weak, then I am strong”. We know Paul was not strong in the traditional sense. To the contrary he was likely a bodily mess. He’d been beaten, abused, and more. However despite his unimpressive physical state, the Lord moved through him with power.
It was in those times when Paul’s weakness was most apparent that the Lord released in him divine power.
I’m no apostle like Paul, but I know what it is to be weak and/or be in over my head. Our culture doesn’t value weakness. Frankly neither do I if I can help it, but there are times when I have no choice but to embrace it – when I don’t know what to do or where to go or what to say. And all I’m left with is a keen awareness of my inadequacy and complete dependence on the Lord. Yet it seems in those moments of my fear and trembling, when my need of God is greatest, that God most readily and powerfully appears.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. Teach me to embrace weakness so that your power can be revealed in me. Amen.