“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. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me and He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). These verses are God’s answer to a petition Paul made to Him concerning a thorn in his flesh. They capture the essence of our life’s journey and from them we can learn much about God’s ways. Paul, like many of us, petitioned the Lord for the removal of his problem, rather than development through it. At that time, he prized deliverance more than development. This is not an unusual approach for any of us. Paul was a great man, nevertheless, he was a man with a nature like ours, a nature fraught with human weakness.
Strength Made Perfect: Paul’s journey toward God’s strength led him to suffer much; it was suffering with a purpose. The Father’s goal for you is a perfected strength, a strength that is found only in the Perfected Savior, Jesus Christ! Christ faced the headwinds of trouble, never bowing to them nor flinching in their presence, but courageously carrying out His mission. This is clearly seen in the following interchange with the Pharisees. “Some Pharisees came, saying to Him, ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’ And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem’” (Luke 13:31–33). Jesus was well aware of His imminent death at Jerusalem, nevertheless, He did not flinch nor waver in the face of it and neither should you! Because of His indwelling presence within you through the Holy Spirit, you now have His perfected strength abiding in your weakened human state! Rely on Christ, not on your own strength which is a “false dependency.” You must depend on Him, not on human strength (abilities, ingenuity), then you will have who He is and what He has done working out His Life in you!
Paul apprehended this truth in such a way that we should learn from him how he laid hold of Christ’s unfathomable strength (not able to be measured). He says, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:22–27). He states, “of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities” (2 Corinthians 12:5). He recognized that when he was weak in his self-life, Christ’s life was powerfully manifested in and through him!
Therefore, in every situation while praying, may we hear these words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”