SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul continues sharing his credentials, reminding them that, like the false teachers the Corinthians had been listening to, he had also seen visions and revelations from God. He mentions a man who was caught up into the third heaven and heard things that he was not permitted to tell. Most scholars believe, according to references in verse 1, 5 and 6 that Paul is actually referring to himself. The "third heaven" may refer to where God dwells, as opposed to our atmosphere and outer space, which could be 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 a physical condition, while others think it was a temptation. Regardless, one thing was clear: God told Paul he would 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, or to get that new job or new girlfriend. God's ways are different than our ways. It is only in weakness that we learn to rely on God. It is tempting in our culture to claim, "I've got this. I can do it." But God says we can't experience his power and presence unless we accept our weakness and give it to him.
- 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.