Why in the world would God do that?

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong

In the beginning of January, a group of us made a New Year’s resolution to memorize nine Bible passages for 2014.  Well, a whole year has almost passed and we are on our very last Scripture passage!  Yeah!  This last passage comes out of 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul is writing of the “surpassing greatness” of the revelations he was allowed to experience.

The revelations that Paul experienced were of heaven and he writes that these revelations were so great, so immeasurably powerful, that it was necessary for God to lovingly keep him humble so that he would not exalt himself.  What exactly does Paul mean here?  Did the revelation of paradise make reality so crystal clear to him that he could no longer relate to the weaknesses and brokenness of sinful humanity?  Did he understand things so perfectly that muddled thinking and faithless hearts just frustrated him so that rather than have compassion for others he tended to be more judgmental of them?  Whatever the case may be, Paul understood that the “thorn in his flesh (that he mentions in verse 7) was given to him to keep him from becoming conceited.  It was given to him to keep him from thinking more highly of himself than he ought to think.  It was graciously given to him to keep him near to the Lord.  For Paul knew that God was opposed to the proud but gave grace to the humble.

However, Paul still did not want this “thorn in the flesh”.  And so, in verse 8, he writes, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.”  Paul pleads and he begs the Lord to take this weakness away from him.  In Paul’s heart, this “thorn in the flesh” only hindered his devotion to the Lord and he wanted nothing of it.  But, rather than take this deficiency out of his life, God allows it to remain.  Yes, that’s right.  God allows what Paul describes as “a messenger of Satan sent to harass him” (vs. 7) to remain in his life.  Why in the world would God do such a thing as that?  Doesn’t God love Paul?

Yes, God certainly does love Paul and Paul knows that very well.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul tells us why God allowed it and we will discuss God’s response to Paul in my next article.