7 And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I besought 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." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, 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. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 [RSV]
This morning I finished Chapter 11 with the final wrap up of Paul’s continued warning of the Corinthian Church that they should beware of these false leaders who are only seeking to lord their control over them.
In chapter 12 Paul begins to talk about visions and revelations that have been given to him by the Lord. He starts with a recollection of a vision that he was taken up into the ‘third heaven’ and that things spoken to him there could not be uttered. He tells of this vision in the third person but it is clear through more complete reading that this experience was indeed Paul himself.
Then Paul moves to my focus of this chapter which is the thorn in Paul’s flesh he has been given by the Lord to keep him from ‘becoming too elated’. This elation and boastfulness could come from the pride in him being the one chosen by God to see these revelations. Paul says that he prayed three times for God to take away this ‘thorn’ but God’s response what that His grace is sufficient and God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Paul then finishes up with how this is ‘enough’ for him. Knowing that in his weakness God will perfect His strength, that is all Paul needs.
For a long time I thought that this was just a wonderful passage by Paul to help us understand how we should see our weaknesses as a fertile place for God to grow his strength in us…but today I take away more. Today I recollect several times that I have been ‘Filled’ with the Spirit. These are times where the Lord bathed me in his Holy Spirit and my inner being was given a closeness with God that is hard to describe…but these did not last but for a few days or weeks. I believe that this removal I experienced is what Paul is alluding too as a way of God keeping us from becoming elated and remembering that it is in our weakness that God becomes strong. It is when He brings us through trial and tribulation that we see how faithful and powerful and wonderful He is.