So to keep from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. (v.12)
I think that everyone of us has been given a thorn in the flesh, and even Paul is not exempted. To each individual is a thorn unique in its own. In Paul’s case, his thorn in the flesh is the one that keeps him from becoming proud. Paul, being one of the greatest characters in the Bible, has everything to boast of. He has a long list of accomplishments in his lifetime. He was the one who had the 360-degree turn—from being the greatest persecutor of the Christians (as Saul) to becoming the apostle of the Gentiles, which constitutes majority of the population.
I think that some of us has overlooked this passage in the Bible, that Paul, after all his suffering from the external forces—hardships and persecutions, has an internal suffering, too. That is, his thorn in the flesh. And from here we begin to wonder why God allows this matter? If I come to think of it, as Christians, we suffer the same. Yes, there are insults and persecutions we get from unbelievers of our being “self-righteous” and all the blahs. While at the same time, there is also the constant struggle between our flesh and spirit within. There is also that certain pull backwards when we try to uplift ourselves more than what we wish to do. Isn’t there too much suffering, Lord?
Yes there is, but it is only at this point, when our dependence on God comes in. That we may not boast by our own spirit, but by His Spirit alone. It is only at this point we are being filled when we recognize His power, working in our lives. My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. (v.8) Take note of the word “best”; miracles only happen in the worst of times.
Sometimes, I could really blame myself in the fact that I’m not as confident and strong-willed as I wish to be. Not as strong in overcoming recurring temptations, and even not as bold in sharing in God’s Word. But if I am to think about it, where will God’s role come into my life if I am perfect? When will be the times will I pray for his help if I am all these? I guess given all that, I won’t have the “dependence” on Him. Without my dependence on God, there will be no sweetness in my relationship with Him. There will be no time that I will be grateful of my blessings. And there will be no joy in overcoming temptations and improvements, knowing that I did it all myself; when after all, every overcoming comes from Him alone. I won’t recognize God’s power, when I do not have this thorn in the flesh.
I hope that I will be like Paul, having the wisdom to rejoice in his weaknesses and sufferings. And I hope to understand better my thorns in the flesh – that I may not see it as a burden. And that someday I could say, That’s why I take pleasure in my weakness, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (v.10) … because it is only when I am weak, that God’ Spirit will be working within me.