Persecution & Suffering: 25

Paul makes a clear statement in 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given 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.”

Every person has their own areas of weakness. For example, I have never struggled with fear as many people do, but I have battled my entire life against pride (as well as selfishness and laziness). Evidently, pride was an issue for Paul as well. Paul recognized that his “thorn in the flesh,” although painful to endure, was a gift from God. It was God’s tool for helping deal with Paul’s pride. It showed Paul his inability to deal with it, his weakness.

As a result, Paul was able to rejoice in every “negative” thing that happened to him, knowing that God was using those things to refine his character and show the power of God in him. In fact Paul said he actually delighted in those things. Those areas of personal weakness and helplessness actually became the things he took pride in because of how they testified to God’s greatness in being able to use such a weak instrument.