Summary: There is a great ministry in the deep hurting points of life.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 -- “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” or this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
l. INTRODUCTION -- THE STRANGENESS OF GOD’S WAYS
-Whenever one reads this portion of Scripture, it stands out to us that often there is a sense of strangeness about the processes of God. Here, at the height of spiritual power, at the point of revival, a calamity sets in on the life of the great apostle Paul.
-It probably is best illustrated in the life of Peter, as to the paradox of the working of God in our own lives. Peter was impetuous and outspoken and some of the things that he said was not always couched in wisdom nor in tact. Consider the pattern:
• Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Luke 5:8)
• Lo, we have left all and followed thee. (Luke 18:28)
• What shall we have therefore? Be it far from Thee, Lord. (Matthew 16:22)
• Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. (Matthew 14:28)
• Lord, save me. (Matthew 14:30)
• To whom can we go but unto Thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
• How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? (Matthew 18:21)
• Thou shalt never wash my feet. (John 13:8)
• Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and my head. (John 13:9)
• I know not the man. (Matthew 26:74)
• Lord, Thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love Thee. (John 21:15-17)
• Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. (Acts 10:14; 10:28; 11:8)
• Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us; what was I that I could withstand God? (Acts 11:17)
-This is just a sampling of some of Peter’s comments. His words mark him. Often hastily rushing into sacred territory like a blind bull, full of arrogance. On the other hand, despite these heady remarks that Peter made, his heart was always close to repentance. As with the Lake scene, attempting to tread waters much to deep for him but willing to cry out to the Master as he began to sink.
-Often, as it is our nature, the inability to comprehend the way that God will work through us and with us and in us. Yet, it thrills God to bring power out of weakness.
-Great spiritual power, yet the presence of the nagging thorn. Great faith, yet weak faith. The distraction that constantly allowed him to understand that despite the power and privileges of the Crucified life there was that sense of weakness.
-So it is with thorns that come our way. They have the prospect of shaping us.
ll. 2 CORINTHIANS 12
-Paul was quick to affirm that fourteen years ago, there was that place of excessive revelation. A place that he had been close to God. Were one to look back fourteen years in the life of Paul from ll Corinthians 12, it would have been traced to the stoning at Derbe and Lystra.
-At the place of the pain of the stoning, Paul was lifted to the third heaven. It was there that God revealed to him the great mystery of the third heaven. Such was the experience that Paul does not even relate what he saw.
-But because of this great experience in his life, he came to great revelation, but he also came to bear the mark of the thorn.
A. Word Study of “Thorn”
-When one looks to the word, thorn, there is that basic understanding of what a thorn is. However, Paul was not having reference to a small, simple hurt that served to distract him at different times of his walk toward God.