A Thorn in the Flesh

January 22, 2021

2 Corinthians 12

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Big Idea: Our weakness is a blessing because it invites God to work in us. 

2 Corinthians 12 is undeniably a challenging chapter. Paul refers to himself in the third person and talks about being taken up to the third heaven and admits that even he does not know exactly what happened. Then he explains that God gave him a thorn in the flesh to prevent him from growing proud, and we do not know what that is either. We could get bogged down in chasing the details but I think we will find much more fruit from taking a step back and seeing the big picture. God allowed Paul to suffer, not as punishment for anything he had done, but as a preventative measure. Running may be uncomfortable at times but it strengthens your heart. Suffering is the same kind of exercise spiritually, so God refused to take it away from Paul.

Instead, He assured the apostle that His grace was enough. Paul did not need anything else if He had God. In fact, His weakness opened the door for God to work: “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Because Paul’s thorn in the flesh brought him low, God was able to use him and raise him up. We have had occasion to note several times in this study that it is better to hurt and be comforted by God than to never hurt at all; the same principle returns here. Paul boasts about his weakness and rejoices in his pain because that is when God shows up.

What about you? If you could choose between the easy life without God and the hard life with Him, what would your heart do? Perhaps, if we are honest, we do not really know until we are put in such a situation. But I think the promise of this chapter applies to that reality, too. When we arrive at a fork in the road which is more than we can bear, God whispers through eternity: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 

Discussion Idea: While we do not know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, we can consider if we have our own. Is there some trial in your life that God has used to keep you dependent on Him? 

Prayer Focus: Pray for the grace to rejoice in pain through faith that God is greater.