2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
A remote bluff with a scenic view a quarter of a mile off of Rough Trail. Red River Gorge, Slade, Kentucky.
I always carry a well-stocked first aid kit along with quite a bit of survival gear when we hike. Some would probably accuse me of being a little overstocked. I suppose I could trim down what I carry a bit, but leading groups of people on hikes, sometimes in fairly remote places, I would rather err on the side of caution and be ready to handle any emergency that might arise.
There are a number of well known “pastors” out there today who preach a terrible distortion of the Christian message, known as the prosperity gospel. Promises of health, wealth, and happiness abound in their teachings. Following Christ does not mean we will be successful in everything that we do, not even in our ministry efforts, nor does it mean we will be richly rewarded in the form or earthly treasures. Neither does being a follower of Christ mean that we will be free from sickness or injury.
Paul does not tell us specifically what his “thorn…in the flesh” is in today’s passage. We do not know whether this weakness of Paul’s was an illness, injury, or some mental or spiritual challenge he was facing. Regardless of the particular affliction, Paul was obviously bringing it to the Lord in prayer, but apparently to no avail. God’s answer to Paul was simply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
How many of us can actually say that we would be “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?” I can only pray that someday I might be blessed with this kind of faith. I can only pray that someday “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” May we all be blessed to realize, whatever afflictions and weaknesses we experience in life, that God’s grace, won through the blood of Christ, is the only thing we really need.
Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts
© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.