Have you ever met or heard of someone who seems to wear a holy halo? They are known by their superfluous adjectives or with a long drawn out face about their recent God encounter. Jesus warned the disciples to beware of these Pharisees who roam about in long robes and utter long drawn out prayers on the city street corners not for street evangelism but so that others would think they were the holiest men of all.
It is not the encounter but their boasting about it publicly for the world to see that is so counter to how Paul felt about sharing his. In his humility, meekness and gentleness in Christ Paul finally broke down and wrote about the one vision that so changed his life that we read about in chapter 12. In fact, Paul only shared the briefest of details of this encounter and only after 14 yrs had passed and further only because of the false teachers who were casting aspersions about Paul. You can almost hear Paul saying under his breath “enough is enough!” And so in this chapter Paul shared not only his God encounter but the afflictions that he received as a direct result.
Principle: Paul wants his audience to realize that God allowed afflictions require dependence upon God alone so that He alone gets the glory.
As the Corinthians read this chapter they could visualize in their minds Paul’s thorn. It was something that touched his very person, it was a messenger of Satan, and it was troubling. As Jesus prayed three times in the Garden for the cup to be removed so Paul prayed three times for the thorn to be removed. God did not remove the cup from Jesus and He did not remove the thorn from Paul.
Principle: “The man who is being most blessed of God is being the most buffeted by the devil” [Redpath].
Through this thorn we learn of his ability through supernatural power and wisdom to experience and be successful in the trial that lay before him. What was this thorn? Paul does not tell us therefore where the scriptures are silent we are as well. What we do know is that it was “something which frustrates and causes trouble in the lives of those afflicted.” (Kruse) Paul lived by taking his own advice: “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” [Phil 4]
What we do know is that Paul had an insight from the Lord “My grace is sufficient/enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Note the progression:
My = It is the grace of God, not ours.
Grace = The favor and love of God in action.
Is = Present tense; it is on going.
Sufficient = It is complete and fully adequate for the need at the moment.
For you = This means for not just Paul but for you and me!
“This sufficiency is declared without any limiting words, and therefore I understand the passage to mean that the grace of our Lord Jesus is sufficient to uphold thee, sufficient to strengthen thee, sufficient to comfort thee, sufficient to make thy trouble useful to thee, sufficient to enable thee to triumph over it, sufficient to bring thee out of it, sufficient to bring thee out of ten thousand like it, sufficient to bring thee home to heaven . . .” [Spurgeon]
Are you being buffeted today? Take heart and claim this promise from God “My grace is sufficient for you”