Summary: Paul had an affliction; what’s yours?
2 COR 12:7 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.
Paul had been telling these Corinthians about the visions and revelations that God had shown him. And he had what he calls an "abundance" of revelations from God. ...but yet, he wants us all to know that he did not wish to be "exalted above measure", lest he or anyone else think him more important than what he really was..even though he WAS important! Paul was a great man of God, the best missionary for Christ that I can think of. We must all remember that the message is what is important....not the messenger!
As I look at this text, I wonder "Jesus, how come Paul didn’t get his healing?" Who more deserved healing than Paul? And I can’t help but htink of how sometimes we don’t get our healing. After all, the Bible says if we ask anything in His name, it will be granted. It says all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed in order to move mountains. So why, after crying and pleading with God, do we not see things change like we expect them to? Paul prayed 3X for his affirmity and never was healed. This very thing happens to us. Many times we pray for a specific want or need and our request seems to go unanswered. We must realize that God does not think like us. He thinking is on a superior level which is to our benefit. God always grants us more than what we ask for, but he grants it on his time schedule.
So then I read further...“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” God is saying his sustaining influence will allow Paul to continue preaching and teaching the Word. God is telling Paul that the thorn, whatever it was, will not interfere with his ability and desire to continue in his ministry....and it may even have enhanced Paul’s ministry.
Listen, today we all have "thorns in our flesh," don’t we? Some have different thorns than others. We all have thorns in our lives. Many people have faced the thorns and made them roses. Thorns can be in the form of sickness, such as cancer, leukemia, diabetes, heart attack, or stroke. We can have thorns that incapacitate us: loss of a limb (hand, foot, leg, arm, finger(s), or toe(s). We can have the thorn of blindness or deafness. The thorn of paralysis. Some thorns in life are easier to cope with than others. Thorns can bring about positive or negative changes in our lives. You could spend all day long complaining about your thorn and never be what God wants you to be, or you can learn that His grace is sufficient for you.You can get "bitter" or you can get "better" when dealing with your thorn.
Did you ever get a little thorn stuck in your hand or finger? Maybe a "sticker" or a piece of wood splinter. Do you know what happens to that thorn if you don’t get it out? It begins to fester and get infected. Pretty soon, it’s not just the area around the thorn that is affected...it spreads up you entire hand and arm. If it goes long enough without being extracated, you could even loose your hand and maybe even your life! Brothers and sisters, don’t let those kind of thorns fester inside you. Better to cut it out than loose your life over it!
But there are also physical thorns, as Paul had. You can make excuses (too tired, can’t see too good, too old, too young....on and on) or you can use what you’ve got.....His grace is sufficient for you . If God has placed a thorn in your flesh, you can use it for good and not for an excuses. You know how many evangelists give testimony about how God saved their lives? Some of them still have certain thorns in their flesh that God uses for His will. There is a certain evangelist I like to watch on TV whenever I can. He has cerebal palsey. He can’t speak right, he doesn’t have control of his hands and fingers. It sometimes is painful to watch him speak becasue he seems to have to put soooo much effort into even talking. Don’t you think he’d like to be totally healed? But he doesn’t cry out to God or be angry. He uses what he has and what he is to further the Kingdom of God. His grace is sufficient for you