The Apostle Paul knew very well that he was remarkably blessed with extraordinary experiences with the Lord. He saw and heard things others didn’t. He was entrusted with divine revelations and visions even secrets. Such a privilege to be invited to God’s place. It was that great that he could easily boast on his personal achievements (v.4-5).
However, to keep him from becoming conceited or proud, God put a thorn in his flesh. To be more specific, “a messenger from Satan to torment him”. He begged the Lord three times to take the thorn away but God did not grant it (v.7-8). One may ask, why was it important for God to put such a thorn in his flesh? Why is weakness a valuable perspective? Why not keeping him strong so he could work even harder for the Lord?
Let’s contemplate on our own lives. When we are weak, we seek for help, we are careful, we consider things comprehensively, but I think most of all, it forces us to depend on God – to put our trust and hope in Him. On the other hand, when we feel strong, we are confident, often careless, less calculative, might overlook any potential problems and mostly we trust our own selves – we don’t really need God. Arrogance separates us from Him.
There is a significant difference the Bible provides about this:
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert, and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt that is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream, and does not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.’” (Jer 17:5-8).
We think we knew already that we have to trust God. But to be honest, it’s not easy to depend on God completely, right? We want to add our own judgment and analysis. It’s hard to just keep calm and wait for the Lord. Our fear just pops up regardless the wisdom we gain. It is what happens to me in the matter of working to provide for my little family, although He kept me amazed with His own ways many times. We are prone to anxieties, while He prepares abundant blessings for those who trust in Him, but curses the other way around. The word ‘curse’ is a very strong warning. He wants to be our sole confidence - other than that is a disbelief.
Are we somehow helpless – spiritually, physically, financially? Moreover, after following Christ wholeheartedly, do we face more challenges and trials? Let’s rejoice, because we are about to see the magnificent work of God. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (v.9). Even Satan can be God’s tool for His purpose. Praise be to God - the powerful omnipotent One, nothing or no one ever exists can be compared to. Amen.