- 2 Cor. 10:1-13:14
- Acts 20:2-3a
Paul suffered greatly as an apostle for Jesus. He also was blessed immensely as a result of His obedience to Jesus' call. In order for Paul not to become conceited (that is, to think too highly of himself—to be arrogant), he was given a thorn in the flesh to humble him. Consider what Paul said about this:
6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Cor. 13:6-10 NIV)
There are a number of odd twists to be found in life in Jesus. For example, He said that in order for us to save our life we must lose it. Now, we see that it is when we are weak that we are really strong. How can this be? GOD's grace covers our weaknesses and, when we admit that we can't do it alone (whatever "it" may be), that's when GOD steps in and works through us. We must give up the sense of false control in order to allow GOD to work through us and our life.
Here's another interesting thing about how GOD's grace works: The messenger of Satan (whatever it was) was not intended as a "blessing" to Paul, nor did he view it as such. However, in the end, it truly was a blessing because it forced Paul to trust in GOD to overcome his personal weaknesses. We sometimes go through situations in life that are hard and difficult to explain or understand. We need to remember Paul's situation when we're going through these challenges because GOD can and will work in our lives similarly to how He did with Paul.