Updated: Jul 17, 2021
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. 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.
Thorn in the Flesh
Prior to this verse, Paul experiences a profound heavenly experience (2 Corinthians 12:1-3). He gains incredible insights into the heavenly realms that he is not allowed to share with others. (2 Corinthians 12:4). To keep Paul from being prideful about possessing this divine knowledge, God gives him a "thorn in the flesh." Scripture does not specify what this "thorn in the flesh" is - whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, or associated with sin and temptation. What Scripture does explain though is that a man of great faith and devotion to God is stricken by some ailment, causing him to cry out repeatedly to God for relief. (2 Corinthians 12:7-8)
His Grace is Sufficient
After Paul understands that God's answer to fixing his ailment is a definitive "no," he realizes the purpose of the thorn in his flesh. This weakness he has to live with is to keep him humble. Furthermore, through Paul's suffering, God says that His grace is sufficient to provide everything he needs to endure it. The Greek word for "sufficient" here is arkei, implying endurance, strength, or satisfaction. This Scripture reveals the constant availability of God's divine grace on a believer. God does not remove the thorn, as Paul has requested, but will continually supply him with grace to endure it.
God tells Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. This prevents Paul from boasting in his own self and glory, and in turn, Paul is glad to boast only in his weaknesses, knowing the power of Christ rests upon him. Why would someone like Paul be glad to boast about a painful struggle in his life? It's because the power of Christ becomes most obvious in areas where believers are the weakest. The weaker the human instrument, the more clearly God's grace shines forth. Paul takes no pleasure in the pain itself, but rejoices in the power of Christ that is revealed through him and his weaknesses.
All for the Glory of God
There are several truths revealed in this Scripture about how God works in the lives of Christians. First, God has ordained everything all for His glory, including evil. (God did not create evil, but He allowed for it). God makes use of the devil and his demons to achieve His own purposes. Satan's strategies to kill and steal from Christians through harassments, calamities, and temptations becomes a part of God's own strategies to accomplish His purposes all for His own glory's sake. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, (Genesis 50:20)
Second, God's answers to our prayers are according to His perfect will. God may answer "no" to a believer's prayer request to relieve a burden, whether or not that burden is caused by the devil and his demons. If this particular suffering is causing a Christian to be more dependent on God, it may be accomplishing the exact purpose that God wants for His own glory.
Third, it shows us that God's main concern for His children is not for an easy or comfortable life on this earth. God's main goal is that we trust Him! This means we are to trust God by allowing Christ to be strong in places where we are weak. And we are not to resent God for allowing us to experience these weaknesses. Rather, we are to boast about our weaknesses and even rejoice in our sufferings. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
John 14:6 is the most powerful verse in the Bible to me personally, but 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is one of my all-time favorites. It's in my top five!
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6