A Thorn in the Flesh

2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV) — 7 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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. 10 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.

Paul told us yesterday that he had much he could boast about. After all, he had seen and heard things directly from God that no other person had been privileged to. In our reading today, we see that God also gave Paul a “thorn…in the flesh” to keep him from becoming conceited. What was this thorn in the flesh? There has been plenty of speculation ranging from poor eyesight to demonic harassment. The truth is, we do not know and I believe that Scripture leaves this a mystery intentionally. We do not need to know.

As we continue to read, we see that God told Paul that “my power is made perfect in weakness.” It is in our weaknesses that God’s power is most evident. When we know we cannot do something on our own, we and others are more likely to see the hand of God at work. In our weakness, we are forced to lean on God. And when we lean on him, we learn that he is gracious and his strength in sufficient for our every need.


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