We saw yesterday the two extremes of God’s preparing and equipping servant leaders so they are most effective in the ministry God has chosen; the revelation of glory and a “thorn” to keep us from conceit. “Three times [Paul] pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave” him (2 Corinthians 12:8). Whatever the “thorn” was, it must have been severe if it caused Paul to “plead” with the Lord three times to remove it.
The Lord’s answer is very instructive: “My grace is sufficient for you” (12:10). The meaning of the word “sufficient” helps us understand what Paul gained from the Lord’s response. It means “to be satisfied, content and confident in God’s adequate provision” (arkeo - Little Kittel). God never afflicts us for His purpose without also supplying what we need to endure the affliction. In a slightly different sense, Paul says that we are “not…sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of the Spirit” (3:5-6). We must always remember that apart from God’s grace, we are not capable of doing anything that glorifies God or does His work.
Has God given you a “thorn” to bear? How are you handling it? Are you chafing under God’s hand upon you and resisting the humbling effect of the “thorn”? Submit to what God allows and seek His sufficient grace to both learn from this trial and let your character be polished to reflect Christ in a fuller, brighter way.
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