2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
1 It is necessary to boast; it is not helpful, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. 3 I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak. 5 I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses. 6 For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, 7 especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
There is so much in this passage that we should consider it carefully. Take some extra time today to meditate on this passage. I’ll try to clear up a couple of things and then leave the rest to God’s Spirit with you.
Exactly what that thorn was has been the subject of much speculation. Some have postulated that Paul was going blind, or that he had some other type of handicap. The specific problem is not named and it is not necessary for it to be done. Whatever Paul’s thorn, we can all relate to it for we all have something in our lives that can keep us humble. Whether it is a physical attribute, an emotional difficulty, or a spiritual hindrance, we each have our own thorn in the flesh.
Three times Paul prayed. God always answers our prayers, this time he said “No!” That is a difficult thing to take. A hard word. It is not easy for us to accept a “no” answer. We much prefer “yes” and sometimes will settle for “wait.” But “no” is much harder to take. Sometimes we will even interpret “no” as “wait” so that we can continue to hope against hope that there will be a change. But when God spoke here, the phrase Paul uses indicates a finality of speech, that things were said and done as said. There would be no change.
Paul may have prayed, “God, I want you to remove this thorn so I can proclaim Your grace.” God responded,” I want the thorn to stay so that you can experience My grace.” Paul wanted to be able to show others God’s sufficiency, God wanted Paul to live in his sufficiency. Paul may have wanted God to remove the thorn so that he could be the example of God’s power over the thorn. God left the thorn to show his power over the thorn.
God’s ways are not our ways. We must learn to be content with His answers, His ways. Don’t respond to His negative answer with bitterness. He is good. He is right. Trust Him.