[ Author: Danny Cooper ]
The apostle Paul was hurting, we are not told how, why, or what the problem was but in 2 Corinthians 12, verses 7-9 Paul said the following; “ So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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.”
We are not told what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh was.” Some think that it was a physical illness or situation (bad eyesight is one common theory), some think that it may have been a person or persons who tempted or opposed Paul and his spreading the Gospel of Jesus. Still, others think that it may have been spiritual attacks against Paul by demons or fallen angels. But we are not given any details on this, all we know for sure was that Paul had some sort of issue that caused him pain and sorrow and that he prayed three times for the Lord, Jesus, to remove this issue from him. And after the third time Jesus told Paul that he was going to allow this problem to continue.
Why, we may ask, why did Jesus do this? Paul was a great proponent of the Gospel. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and Paul did many great things in spreading the Gospel throughout all of the known world. Just how could Jesus refuse Paul’s plea for relief? That seems unfair, does it not?
To human understanding it does indeed seem unfair, but what about to Jesus, why was it fair and just for Jesus to allow Paul to continue on with this “thorn in the flesh?’ Well, for one thing, Jesus said that his “grace is sufficient” for Paul. This means that by the grace of Jesus that he would give Paul to strength and resolve to continue on with his mission in spite of his problem. Jesus would strengthen Paul and in doing so, the power of Jesus would also become manifest.
The key thing here is God’s grace and why it is so very important for us to rely on him and not our own power. We must realize that we have no power outside of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 1:19). In relying on God’s great and wonderful grace, we literally have God fighting for us and with us. So since this is the case, I think that it is fitting to end with this passage from Romans 8:31-3:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Note: All verses are quoted from the ESV