Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Today we look at Paul defending his ministry against his many detractors. He does this by making a strange string of boasts to prove he is the best apostle (2 Cor 11:16-12:10).
His first boast is that he had been imprisoned, flogged, hungry, naked, and betrayed more than any other alleged apostle (2 Cor. 11:21-29). Wow. That’s a strong resume.
His second boast is that when the governor of Damascus wanted to imprison him, his friends helped him escape by letting him down the city wall in a basket (2 Cor. 11:32-33). Impressive again, I think. But despite Paul’s shining example, my resume doesn’t highlight times I was a basket case.
Paul’s third boast is that he has had bigger and better spiritual revelations than his detractors. Why, only fourteen years ago he had this amazing experience that he still doesn’t understand. In that vision, he went to heaven in his body or out of it. “I’m not sure which,” he says, “but I certainly saw amazing things, but I’m not permitted to tell them.”
Now imagine Paul in a circle of prophets telling recent experiences and visions, discerning the spirits, understanding the times. When it’s Paul’s turn, he says, “I had a good one recently, about fourteen years ago I think, and it was so amazing I didn’t understand it and I can’t tell you what I saw” (2 Cor. 12:1-6). The prophets don’t give this boy much credit for reporting recent revelations in helpful detail.
Finally, as an addendum to this amazing revelation, Paul says, “It was so great that God sent a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would stay humble” (2 Cor 12:7-8). How would that sound on your resume. “I have this evil thing from Satan that keeps stalking and annoying me so I won’t get too proud.” Nobody else has that on their resume. Nobody else WANTS that on their resume.
Paul calls this messenger from Satan a thorn in the flesh. Three times he asked God to make it go away, but God refused, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
Whatever Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, God’s refusal to make it go away leads Paul to a different resolution of the problem. He says, “I will boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor 12:9), and he says, “I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
O father, we don’t understand Paul’s thorn in the flesh, or why you refused to remove it. But we have our own problems we’ve asked you to solve and you refused. Our problems continue, daily proving our weakness. They expose our prayer life as a failure, our vision of the Christian life as deficient, our ability to manage our lives as weak and ineffective.
We ask you to give us the answer you gave Paul. Give us grace to press on in lives filled with weakness, hardship, and calamity. Give us discernment to know which problems you want to solve, and which you want to leave unresolved. Give us wisdom to see and name the messengers of Satan in our lives. And in our weakness, may Christ’s power be strong in us.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.