Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul continues reviewing his credentials. “I must go on boasting” says the NIV (v.1). “There is not a lot to be gained by this”, Paul says, “but now I’ll take about some of the spiritual credentials I have in terms of visions and revelations.” Then, for no apparent reason (perhaps modesty?) he switches into the third person to tell of an experience he had — “in the body or out of the body I do not know” — where he was “caught up to the third heaven” (v.2). He goes on to identify this “third heaven” with “paradise” (v.4).k There, he “heard inexpressible things, things that a man is not permitted to tell” (v.4). You can be sure this experience was enough to make anyone, regardless of any developed humility, think he was rather special. That is why Paul goes on to say, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (v.7). He does not say what the “thorn” was, but it was enough of an aggravation that he prayed three times for healing, with no success.
You would expect a man who has had such a remarkable spiritual experience to be specially favoured when it came to prayer. You would think he had the kind of faith that would make any affliction flee. But he didn’t. And that’s the point.
Paul is boasting of his weakness. He is just like you and me. We all share a desire to be independent, physically and spiritually. But God makes sure His children stay children. Growing children, yes, but children none-the-less. We are dependent.
Dependent on His grace. Dependent on His will. Dependent on His love. When you get right down to it, that takes the pressure off. The sufficiency is not ours. It’s His.