"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
We continue this week talking about hardships, sufferings & weaknesses that we as Christians must endure. In these verses Paul talks about his concerns about becoming conceited and his understanding that "a thorn in the flesh" is sometimes necessary to keep us humble and for God to be glorified.
Let's be honest with ourselves - isn't it human nature to become proud and arrogant when our life is going "perfectly"? We start to think: "I'm a really strong person", "I can do anything if I put my mind to it" or even "I'm better than they are." This attitude comes from a belief in our own strength & our own accomplishments. However, when something bad happens, then we have to face the fact that our strength does not come from our own being.
A hardship or a "thorn in the flesh" can cause us to become weak in a second. This "thorn" can be an illness, an accident, financial ruin, marital strife, loss of a loved one, mental disorder, loneliness.....(I could go on and on). My favorite line in these verses: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." When these persecutions start, we become weak and it is only God's Divine power that will shine through our weakness. There can be no deception, if we draw on God's power then only Jesus Christ will get the glory because nothing that I did on my own got me through any hardship. This "grace" is the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ - a gift that we don't deserve.
It all has to do with total trust. I think that there is the potential for extreme bitterness here - when someone tries to rely on their own strength to get them through difficulties. I have seen it happen many times - when someone has an issue with "trust" and cries out to God for help but then becomes bitter because "God didn't answer their prayers." In order for our Heavenly Father's power to work in getting us through these hardships we must put everything in His hands and trust God entirely! That is the most difficult part - "letting go and letting God." His Divine Power is unfailing and never ending.
The strength in weakness can only come from God. Always depend on God's strength - NOT your own.