Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
God's Grace & Paul's Thorn
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
30 October 2016
Nobody wants a 'thorn in the flesh;' a constant pain in life. But it may be God's very tool to do His work in us. In Second Corinthians 12:1 - 10, Paul tells of his 'thorn,' and how God used it for his good.
A heavenly experience is verified (v. 1 - 4). Paul tells of his experience in being "caught up to the third heaven," where he saw and heard things that he could not describe. Because of the greatness of this revelation, God also gave him a 'thorn in the flesh' to keep him humble. Although Paul asked for it to be removed, God kept it for the purpose of Paul's humility and growth in ministry. Hardship, therefore, is not always punishment for sin. God may just be using it as a tool in our sanctification!
The challenge - to boast or not to boast (v. 5 - 6). Paul tells of his revelation experience in the third person so as to avoid gathering attention to himself. How unlike the modern claims of visitation to heaven we hear - instead of boasting, Paul is humble, does not name himself, and cannot even describe what he saw. He does this "so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me" (v. 8).
Suffering and God's grace go hand-in-hand (v. 7 - 10). Suffering is never arbitrary, or gratuitous pain. God sends it to keep believers humble (v. 7), so that they may continue to grow and serve in God's graces. The danger of increased knowledge, or of painfree times, is that of forgetting God; our source and life. He sends it to draw from us intercessory prayer (v. 8). Like Paul, often our sympathies with others only grow so much as we have been tried ourselves. Thus, pain can be a messenger of love. God also sends it to display His grace and power (v. 9 - 10). After the third time, Paul stopped asking for his thorn to be removed - he saw it as the grace of God, and thanks God for it. We can too.
Let us resign from pride, and all its ways, to grow in the grace of God - whether that means pleasure or pain.