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.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)
Human weaknesses are seen as severe and troubling insufficiencies. For those who do not belong to Jesus Christ, weaknesses are seen as detrimental problems that subject a person to a life of despair and hopelessness, but for the redeemed, weaknesses are not despair and hopelessness but seeds that bring God’s hidden knowledge in reach. Weakness and infirmity, when yielded to God, can be used to remove dependence on ourselves and reliance on human strength that deceive us into trusting in what can never bring total victory. Unless we yield our self-life to the will of God, we will continue to strain hopelessly under the weight of human strength, which always uses avoidance and escape as victory! But God, in this account in Paul’s life, shows the Apostle an unseen and more often unused road to victory: Christ-dependency! This dependency is never embraced, always rejected by those who depend on themselves or other temporal supports.
The closer one gets to the Lord, the clearer Divine secrets become known to him. He then is given an understanding of these mysteries apart from fleshly interference. God, in His wisdom, requires a person to lean on and become dependent upon His grace. Often, we want His grace as an aid to our human strength, but grace and human strength are diametrically opposed to each other. They operate in two different realms: that of the flesh and of the Spirit. Human strength is opposed to grace because it has no need for it, for it is self-sufficient and works-based! God’s grace only needs our willingness, our yieldedness. In the wisdom of God, He allowed an immovable thorn in Paul’s life to work in him a life of greater dependency on Christ than he had ever known. God-allowed problems that buffet a person relentlessly day by day begs for Divine intervention, and His intervention brings His cure which is not always deliverance but development, which is obtained by a generous outpouring of God’s grace called, “My grace.” The beloved Apostle Paul strongly sought the Lord three times for the removal of this bothersome thorn, but the Divine response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It was through this revelation that the Apostle was given the secret to living in the victory of Christ’s grace with his thorn! This victory is expressed not in our strength but in His. Christ says, “for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Through the unveiling of this mystery, Paul learned the purpose of undergoing weaknesses and various trials. Therefore, he concludes, “most gladly I willrather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Since we also have desired to be strong in the Lord, we must, for Christ’s sake, undergo the same rigors as did Paul, and then we will have the resting-presence of Jesus Christ upon us!