Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 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, 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. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Job 23:10 “But God knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
God breaks us to make us!
body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (4:8-11) It’s in our brokenness that the POWER of Christ’s life is put on display.
Paul at first begged for the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, but then Jesus revealed to him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). That completely changed Paul’s perspective. He then said, “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.” (v. 9b – 10) What a powerful truth: “When I am weak, then I am strong.” When we have no power, then God’s power is put on display. God breaks us to make us!
James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (Ja. 1:2-3). It’s not that we enjoy trails just for hard times sake. No, rather we KNOW that God is at work through these trials. He is producing endurance. He is making us stronger through them. God breaks us to make us. And so James exhorts us: “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (v. 4) Realize God is at work and instead of getting an attitude let it accomplish God’s intended result. Hebrews 12:11 says, no chastening for the present is joyful, but painful, “nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” God breaks us to make us!
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” – A.W. Tozer
2 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV)
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.