Weaknesses, in general, are considered negatives. Consequently, it seems impossible to see or even imagine any good from being weak, or in a state of weakness. However, Christians can view weakness as an advantage. We will be victorious and benefit in spite of our weaknesses, if we depend on God’s strength to sustain us.
Apostle Paul wrote much of his second letter to the church at Corinth in self-defense of his authority as an apostle sent by God. False apostles and teachers were corrupting the minds of Christians there. In the 12th chapter he continues to convince them further by telling them of his visions and revelations. Keep in mind that during Paul’s day, visions and revelations were believed to be marks of special saintliness as well as authority. It was a generally accepted belief that a man having visions was blessed of God; however, a man having pains was under God’s displeasure. Of course, this was not the case with the apostle, Paul.
In the text, we find that Paul had been given a thorn in the flesh. In other words, he had a weakness. There are two separate uncertainties about the phrase, “thorn in the flesh.” Some scholars say thorn refers to a mental-spiritual affliction, while others say a physical pain or condition. Many believe Paul used the term ‘flesh’ speaking of the natural (physical) body. Yet, others believe he spoke of the nature of man. Since there is no explanation, or specific details, we can be assured the attention should not be on the specifics of his condition, or what the “thorn in the flesh” was. Instead, the attention is on the fact that he had a weakness. Therefore, we should focus on how God chose to respond by allowing Paul’s weakness to remain for a specific purpose.
The purpose for Paul’s ‘thorn’ (weakness) is clear— “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations…” (2 Cor. 12:7). In essence, the weakness was for Paul’s benefit. Nevertheless, he went to the Lord three times asking that it be removed. This is no strange request. As humans, it’s a natural desire to be perfect, strong, healthy, and self-sufficient with no weaknesses. (Note: it’s a natural desire, but the sin of the first Adam made it naturally impossible). Continue reading