Summary: In the process of defending himself Paul reveals a vision he saw fourteen years earlier.
Strength in Weakness
Once a little girl found a cocoon hanging from a limb in the forest. She took it to her room and placed it in a jar, expecting one day to see a butterfly emerge.
One day, she saw the butterfly within the cocoon trying get out. It was struggling and trying to push its way out of the tight opening. In an effort to help the poor insect, she very carefully slit open the cocoon.
Soon after, the butterfly was able to easily exit the cocoon. But, a strange thing happened. Instead of spreading two beautiful wings, the butterfly had two withered, shriveled, useless, ugly wings hanging by its side. Why?
God designed the butterfly and his cocoon so that the tight opening would straighten and strengthen his wings. Without the pressure of the tight opening, the butterfly was robbed of the beauty of his wings, and more importantly, he was robbed of the ability to fly into the heavens. He was condemned to a life of walking around on the ground!
Now, we are not butterflies here today, but we need the pressures and trials of life, if we are to develop into all that God has saved us to be. No passage do we see this clearer than 2 Corinthians 12.
From chapter 10 on to really the end of the book Paul is defending his apostleship. There were some false leaders who didn’t believe that Paul was really a man of God.
When they saw Paul, through the eyes of the world, they saw a weak man; A man with no boldness. We would say today that Paul lacked a backbone.
In the process of defending himself Paul reveals a vision he saw fourteen years earlier.
1-4) Paul is taken to Paradise.
• Here he saw amazing things.
o Can you imagine walking with the King in His courtyard?
• Paul says he heard things that were “unspeakable”.
o John was allowed to convey his vision to us, thus we have revelations.
o Paul, however, was not able to tell of what he heard or saw.
5-7) Paul refuses to boast.
• He said that he could boast over seeing and hearing the “unspeakable” but he will not.
o He refrains out of humility.
o He doesn’t want others to think of him more than he really is; a servant of Christ.
• Paul was given a thorn in the flesh.
o Because of this great revelation,
o And to help remind him of his humanity.
8-10) God’s grace in Paul’s affliction.
• We don’t know what Paul’s thorn really was.
o We can make guesses about what we think, but Paul never reveals it too us.
I’ve heard guesses on everything from the man’s eyesight to his sexual lust being brought up.
o What we do know is that Paul desperately wanted to get rid of this thorn.
He asked God three times to remove it.
• This is one of those times when God’s Word is not as revealing for a purpose.
o God reveled to Paul that the thorn was going to stay but He would give the apostle something…
Paul was afforded the Grace of God to help with the thorns of life.
o If we were aware of what Paul’s thorn was we would come to the conclusion that God’s grace only help with those thorns and not the ones like we have…