2 Corinthians 12:7-9

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. I pleaded three times 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.

The Apostle Paul had much to boast about. He had a remarkable life of privilege and achievement. He was highly educated, a citizen of Rome, and an acknowledged leader. He had an abundance of reasons have a high opinion of himself, to be conceited, puffed up and full of self-admiration. Still his apparent success was in the face of tremendous challenges and opposition. If there were someone in his time that could tell a good story and brag about himself, it was Paul.   His life was so amazing that he had detractors, enemies, people who were jealous of him, hated him, and worked hard to pull him down. But God was at work shaping him into the likeness of Christ. And for his part, Paul remained open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 we see the value of human weakness. It is a platform for divine strength and testimony. Glory to God! He  was more interested in Paul’s holiness than Paul’s comfort. Here Paul’s constant pain, his “thorn in the flesh” was necessary to protect him from pride. Paul’s testimony (v. 9) is this, “But he (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

 Focus on a word we might otherwise pass right over, “. . . so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The little word rest is huge. In the original Greek, the word used is episkenose meaning to dwell. When the Bible uses the word, it conveys something more earthy.  It means “pitch his tent.” In other words, Paul says he will boast of his weakness more and more so that he may take strength by living where Christ pitches his tent, or to live under the cover of God’s tent. Read Psalm 91:1-2 & 9&10.

Paul knows that wherever he goes, in the context of his weaknesses, he can be transparent and take strength from the fact that he rests where God has pitched his tent. There he is under God’s cover in the intimacy of his presence. The good news is that we may rest there too. Thanks be to God!

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