September 17

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

When a speaker comes and insists on sharing a long litany of his accomplishments, publications, and degrees, you can be fairly certain he is not relying on the Holy Spirit. When Paul compared himself to the false teachers that were trying to draw the Corinthians away from the truths Paul taught, Paul said it was his weaknesses that were worth boasting about, not strengths.

He had seen revelations that could not be repeated, so to keep him from thinking too highly about himself, God gave him an affliction of some kind. We don't know what it was, but here it is called a thorn in the flesh and a messenger of Satan. He said that it tormented him. Praying three different times for deliverance from it did not help. Eventually he heard from God, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Sometimes God does not deliver us from our suffering but gives us the grace to endure it. That can be a more powerful testimony of God at work in us than if we were to be healed. You probably know people that live with hardship and yet do so graciously, even helping others in the process. That says more about the power of God in their lives than if they were to be healed. Some people insist that all people are to be healed. This case of Paul shows us that is not always true.

Paul had to have such power from God for his ministry that only an affliction could keep him from pride. Paul's response to his situation was to boast about his weakness so that the power could rest on him. He would prefer to have the power of God in his life and be weak than to be in full health and not be used as mightily by God. Which would you prefer?

Consider: If it came down to a choice, would you choose health or the power of God on your ministry?