SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul continues boasting about his credentials, reminding them that he has seen visions and revelations from God too. He also mentions a man who was caught up into the third heaven and heard things that he was not permitted to tell. Many scholars believe, according to references in verse 1, 5 and 6 that he is actually referring to himself. The third heaven is simply where God dwells, as opposed to the sky or the stars, which are considered the first and second heavens.
- Paul refers to a thorn in his side that torments him, which he begged God to take away. No one knows for sure what or who the thorn was. Some scholars believe it was actually a physical condition, while others believe it was a temptation, and still others believe he was referring to a person as the messenger from Satan. Regardless, one thing was clear. God told him no! He did not take the torment away, but instead said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God wanted Paul to rely on him instead of his own strength.
- Paul makes the point that children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. Paul is like a parent to the Corinthians and never wants to burden them.
- Paul is visiting them soon and is very concerned about what he will find when he shows up. He is distressed about the rumors of disobedience to Jesus.
- We are taught to brag about our strengths in order to get into school, get that new job or new girlfriend. But God's ways are different than our ways. It is only in weakness that we will rely on God. It is tempting in our culture to say "I've got this. I can do it." But God says we can't experience his power and presence unless we let go and give our weaknesses to him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- We all have "thorns" that torment us. Maybe yours is an illness you must endure. Or maybe it's a broken relationship, former abuse, or an addiction you can't seem to stop. But just like Paul, God's grace is sufficient for us. God is strong when we are weak. Let your struggle drive you into the arms of God. Let God use your "thorn" for his kingdom. Remember, even roses have thorns!