I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.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. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
I have written on this particular topic before, but it is one that continues to sustain me when the pain comes or I stand at the bottom of a flight of stairs reeling with disgust. Yes, I have come to dislike stairs very much as they are my weakened legs’ worst enemy.
In this portion of Scripture, the apostle Paul reveals that he struggled with some kind of physical limitation, disability or illness. He doesn’t tell us specifically what it was, only that it was “a thorn in the flesh.” I think those terms strongly suggest that Paul suffered ongoing pain and discomfort, enough to ask the Lord several times for healing. But it was denied him.
However, because of Paul’s deep understanding of grace and intimate relationship with Jesus, he is comparing his painful experience to another man’s awesome one and concluding that they are BOTH something to “boast” about, writing about it in detail to the Corinthians. How can this be? Because Paul views anything that glorifies God, including pain or illness, to be amazing and worth sharing with others in order that Christ may be magnified in him.
I have also asked God for healing which has, so far, been denied. I know that God can heal and He does heal. But I also know that if He chooses not to, He is still sovereign and He is still GOOD. I know because He continues to sustain me each day in love and grace, and somehow I make it up those stairs! (or send one of my kids to run up for something, or take the elevator or get carried up as the case may be…but we get through it!)
I believe that God’s grace is undeniably sufficient (Even if I am never physically healed while alive on earth, I am still forever sealed with eternal life, by His grace, through repentance and faith in what I could never do myself but was accomplished by Christ on the cross!) and I know that anything I am able to accomplish in this weakened state is because of His power and not my own. Therefore, by His grace, Christ is magnified in my life and, for that, I am so humbled and grateful.
Thank you for continued prayer and support! Grace be with you, my friends.