2 Cor 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When I was growing up, I was taught things like, “Real Men don’t cry,” “Never let them see you sweat,” “Only the strong survive,” “Macho Men never say sorry.” Many of us were groomed from a young age to be hard, and it was reiterated in movies, TV and in music. Weakness was not something to be proud of or to admit, especially men! So what is Paul talking about in this text? What is this thorn that tormented Paul? What did Jesus mean when He said “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness?” And what in the world is Weak-Strength? (There is a great deal in this text and we will not cover even close to all)
Paul is responsible for drafting over half of the New Testament; he was the ultimate preacher’s preacher. The man that God used to start 14 congregations in the early church, and the Lord’s spokesman to the Gentiles. He could have easily been arrogant, rude and unapproachable, you know like many of our clergy today. The text says Paul received an abundance of the revelations, and admits that with all that he had received, he very well could have been exalted. This makes his acknowledgment all that more impressive, let’s see what Paul reveals:
- Transparency: And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Paul acknowledged a short coming, one that no one else had any idea about. It was something that the church and history would have never known, but he felt necessary to share. Why? Transparency is a necessary ingredient to a healthy and intimate relationship. Because of Jesus’ love for us he became transparent in every aspect opening His life up to us both in scripture and in our hearts. Paul acknowledged weakness to the Lord, the one he was in intimate relationship with.
Recently, my wife shared with me that I never acknowledge my wrongs/issues. It caught me off guard because I am a STRONG proponent of transparency, especially in the church. It caused me to reflect and see what this crazy woman was talking about. As I did, I realized that although I did not like it, she was not so crazy. I knew I had issues, things I would not want others to know and even some things I had not admitted to her. So I decided that I would share those thorns, lest I be exalted in my own mind.
- Expectancy: Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. Paul quickly took this “thorn in the flesh” to the Lord, with an expectation that the Lord would remove it. I realized that I have done the same, more than three times I might add. So many things about me I have asked Jesus to remove or change and He has constantly reminded me the same thing, but I have not always wanted to believe Him. God has made me the way He made me because He knows who I am, why I’m here and what my future holds. This gives even more credence to His answer to Paul’s plea. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus’ all sufficient Grace is more than enough to offset my weakness; as a matter of fact it is because of our weaknesses that we see His perfect strength. Therefore my new expectation is that even with our many issues, we can be honest with God and those closest to us, because Jesus’ Grace and Strength are perfectly seen through them all. Learn what Paul came to understand and now I understand even more, we can be ourselves and don’t have to worry about what others think because Jesus knows everything about us and has already given us an abundance of Grace to cover every thorn in the flesh, and it is because of how much He loves us.
- Dependency: Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. Paul was then able to boast in those infirmities or weaknesses (which the Lord would not remove), but his boasting is because in those very areas of weakness (check this out) the power of Christ rested upon him. So rather than attempting to hide his weaknesses, he began to be dependent on the power of Christ. We too have to depend on this power, because our weaknesses put Christ’s power on display. When I acknowledged my weakness to my wife, it not only freed me up, allowed her another window into who I am; it also immediately put the power of Christ on display!!! My dependency has to be in Jesus and not my ability, my weakness, my faults or my efforts. Paul began to take pleasure in his weaknesses; “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.” Begin to be dependent on Christ, and begin to boast in your thorn so that all can see the Power of Christ. You will then experience the power of Weak-Strength.
Transparency is tough for us, because we have to become vulnerable and admit to others who we really are and the things that we are not necessarily proud of are on display to others. But with that transparency we are able to have Expectancy, we are able to expect an answer or understanding about our weaknesses. Jesus advised Paul about his thorn in the flesh and let Paul know to expect His Grace, which was more than enough to cover all weakness. The word thorn is actually a Greek word (skovloy) that means pointed piece of wood or a sharp stake; and this thorn was in the flesh. Jesus could relate; He knew what a thorn or sharp pointed stake in His flesh felt like. He literally took our thorn in the flesh onto Calvary’s cross, and because He did all of our Dependency is in Him. Because ALL Power is in those same hands that were pierced w/thorns on the cross, we can be confident in our Weak-Strength.