And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12:9-10
The word of God tells us that we are to be persistent and diligent in our faith in God. From a parable that Jesus gave regarding the unjust judge, Luke came to the conclusion that men ought always to pray and not faint.
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Luke 18:1
Luke came to this conclusion after hearing of how a widow was persistent in her request to a judge to avenge her of a wrong done to her. How often in the midst of our bad times do we pray to God to deliver us and then become discouraged when it does not happen in the time or the way we envision it should happen? We give up, walk away, become discouraged and faint in our spirit. We lose sight of the fact that God has a plan for our life that supersedes our thinking.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Luke speaks of being diligent in our prayer and not giving up. Apostle Paul also speaks to us of not wavering:
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.Galatians 6:9
We never know what adversities, what ungodly influences, what obstacles or unfortunate situations are coming our way but by our faith and confidence in God we should be able, like King David, to say, 'the Lord is my strong tower in whom I will trust'.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalms 18:2
Peter tells us that a life for Christ involves suffering for His namesake:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 1 Peter 4:1
Obstacles; ungodly influences come for a reason:
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 1 Peter 4:2
There are times when we are quick to blame the enemy for our difficult times, but that is not always the case; we give the enemy far more credit that he is due. Sometimes trials or difficult situations come to prove us; to make us stronger. That is one reason why it is so necessary to not only know what God says through His written word, but to have our prayer life built up. Take your prayer to the necessary level; ask, seek, or knock; just don't give up. We may not always understand what it is that God is working out of us or into us in our situation; how He is moving on our behalf. That is why it takes steadfast diligence. In the parable (Luke 18:1-8) the widow was persistent until the unrighteous judge honored her request. How much more do you think our righteous God will do for us?
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? Luke 18:7
Apostle Paul had a situation in which he, on his own, could not resolve. The bible does not tell us what his 'thorn' was. The most it tells us is that it was a "thorn in the flesh; the messenger of Satan to buffet me."
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 2 Corinthians 12:7
So then, all we can do is surmise about the specifics of the thorn and for that matter who or what the 'messenger' was.
Unfortunately, many people take verse 9 and make it a 'sell out' excuse to sin as if Apostle Paul was our Lord and Savior and not Jesus Christ who came to save us from our sin, to release us from the bondage of sin and to break EVERY yoke that so easily ensnares us.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Apostle Paul did not have a pity part or become dejected or give up on God. Instead his mind set was this:
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
Apostle Paul said to be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [sin]:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free , and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galations 5:1
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1
Apostle Paul also tells us to not be conformed to this world but rather to be transformed by the renewing of our mind:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2
He went on to say that some things [some sins] should not even be named among us:
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5:3
We remember and talk about verse 9 of 2 Corinthians 12 when what we ought to be doing is rejoicing in verse 10 that Paul was able to overcome.
Learning to walk with Christ and be Christ-like is a process for sure and no doubt, some things are not as easy to shake or drop as we would like but, when we get to that point where Apostle Paul got to when he made the declaration:
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake," For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
- we understand that his faith in God had taken him to a place where his tests and trials no longer bothered (or 'buffeted' as he said) him. He could now face his 'thorn' with full confidence that God's grace was sufficient to keep him! But, he prayed for deliverance, for God to intervene on his behalf. God did not intervene in the way that he expected but God let Apostle Paul know that His grace was sufficient to keep Him.
You can know, through verse 10, within your heart that through God's grace (His unmerited favor), you are able to stand strong in the face of your adversary or situation; that you are not moved or swayed by whatever is buffeting you. That thing that buffeted Apostle Paul, that 'thorn in his flesh', that 'messenger of Satan' caused Apostle Paul to go before God. Through the grace of God, he was delivered according to God's will - it was for his good; rather he liked it or not, but ultimately, it was for God's glory! Don't forget that!
That's why he could boastingly say,
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10
What started off as a test was no longer a test; he could laugh in the face of his thorn! Apostle Paul had peace and joy in the midst of his thorn. What a wonderful place to be in God! What a wonderful affirmation of the presence of God in your life and what a compliment to God that our faith in Him sustains us and that we have joy and peace in God despite all. What a glorious way to exalt His name! What a wonderful way to display the glory of God!
Sometimes, God will get you to a place where there is nothing you can do but rely on Him and His grace so that when you come out, like Apostle Paul, you will be able to say, 'Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake." - knowing that the Glory that God gets from your victory is going to be a blessing to you! It helps me to know that the plans that God has for me are plans of good and that no matter what my situation is, I have to trust that all things will work toward for the good that God has preordained for my life.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
We may not always understand everything that comes against us, but one thing we should know and understand is that God knows and He is in complete control!
Prayer is key!