OFTEN THERE ARE GREAT LESSONS IN OUR LOSSES. We can see through our tears some of God’s greatest truths. Let’s now see what Paul saw in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, which concludes with the marvelous words, “for when I am weak then I am strong.”
“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.”
See the rich truth here disclosed. We humans require special help from God as we go higher with him. Truly there are dangers at higher elevations. Hence verse 7 says “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh…” This providential “thorn” was possibly some humiliating, unsightly disease.
Now, who gave this ill condition to the apostle? It appears that God did. But our text calls it “a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
So the same burden is termed as a providential thorn and also as “a messenger from Satan, to torment” Paul. This Scripture is very helpful when we enter into prayer:
1. We see and stand against the enemy.
2. We definitely claim Christ’s power resting on us.
Such trials must not separate us from God but cause us to “delight in weaknesses….for when I am weak I am strong.”
Some of these mysterious spiritual principals are taught elsewhere in Scripture. See for example 2 Samuel 24:1. The people had turned from following God and God used King David and his proclivity to sin as an instrument to accomplish divine discipline of them. The sovereign God let David make a proud numbering of all his armies and thus invite open judgment upon them.
Light is thrown on this mystery in the parallel 1 Chronicles 21:1ff “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” Here is a case where God removes his protective shield against evil and lets David feel the brunt of Satan’s temptation.
These principles are graphically portrayed in the life of Job. In the early part of that book, he is designated as the most righteous man on earth. But Satan is allowed to put him to test so that God’s greater glory can be seen. The Almighty One displays his victory over evil using Job’s faithfulness and perseverance, which is cited repeatedly in other Scriptures. Then “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” Job 42:12
HOW THEN SHALL WE RESPOND TO OUR TESTING? By standing in light from these Scriptures and praying with renewed faith and understanding of these truths:
1. Such testings do not mean God is against us – NO! He is for us and the hard blows are proof of his love. God chastens those he truly loves. (See Heb. 12:6)
2. Our on-target prayer is two-dimensional. It is warfare just as Ephesians 6:10ff declares. And secondly, it is surrender into the hands of our Lord. We praise him, love him, give ourselves over to him, assured by the Scripture that though we are weak, we can indeed be strong in the Lord.