9 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 of my weaknesses, so 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 12:9-10
The context here is Paul’s discussion of the thorn in his flesh. God had been gracious to deliver Paul from a host of calamaties, however, this thorn in his flesh persisted. Paul indicates twice in verse 7 that God allowed this thorn to prevent Paul from becoming conceited. So then, Paul says weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamaties are put in their proper place and perspective because Christ is sufficient. Jesus is enough.
Weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamaties… Do any of these sound familiar? What is the thorn in your flesh and what is your attitude towards it?
I praise God for testimonies of God’s goodness and certainly believe God is able to heal the sick, restore relationships, and provide for our needs. I will never tire of hearing of the miracle working power of God being manifest in someone’s heart and life. But the reality is, that in this fallen world, we all have hardships that seem to be our constant compations. We have a dozen supernatural breakthroughs in a dozen areas, but there is that one issue, that one relationship, that one addiction that is like an anchor around our necks. God does not seem to bring deliverance, healing, or resolution in the time/ way that we long for.
Part of the reason we want any thorn in our flesh to go away is because it is painful. It is annoying. It is irksome. It is a relentless annoyance that we have to twist ourselves into a pretzel (physically, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually) in order to numb ourselves to the hurt so we can function. We think if that trial would resolve itself or that person would simply leave me alone or that bill would just get paid then we could be free to flourish. We could be content.
But we see here in Scripture, and at times in our own spiritual walk, that true contentment and peace come not from the absence of problems but by sensing the nearness of God. Paul boasts in his weakness, because it is in his weakness that the power of Christ can rest upon him. That power is made perfect in your weakness. God does not desire we hide our weakness or ingnore our shortsightedness. We are not strong when our lives are well oiled machines and absent of adversity. We are not strong when we have made something of our lives and proven our worth to God and others. We are not strong when we have extensive stock protfolios and financial security. We are strong when we are weak and the thorn is throbbing in our side, because Jesus is enough.