Lent Devotional: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

by Jonathan Haefs

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (click here)
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. 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. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Was Paul’s thorn from God or from Satan?

The answer is… YES!

Paul calls this thorn (whatever it is) a messenger from Satan to harass him! Clearly, this thorn is from Satan and is intended to destroy Paul’s faith and defame God.

Yet…Paul also says that this thorn was given to him in order to keep him from becoming conceited. Now whose purpose is that? It’s God’s purpose! God has sovereignly brought this thorn into Paul’s life for his good and perfect purposes! Clearly, this thorn is from God and is intended to sustain Paul’s faith by grace and glorify God!

Paul prays for the thorn to be removed, but the reply is that God’s grace will be sufficient to sustain him amidst having this thorn. God’s power will be more fully displayed in the life of Paul as he presses on with this thorn and continues to love, worship, and serve the Lord. God tells Paul that in his weaknesses is precisely where divine power in all it’s perfection may be most clearly seen!

So Paul embraces his weaknesses! He embraces his sufferings! Why? So that he can experience more and more of the power of Jesus at work in him, sustaining him. And, so he can show the world more and more of the truth of Jesus and his power!

Through his suffering, Paul is coming to know more of Christ and making more of Christ known!

No matter how much Satan means this thorn for evil…God means it for good! Satan may have wicked, evil purposes in this thorn, but God has righteous, good, loving purposes. This is the truth in any suffering we experience.

When you go through suffering… is it from Satan or from the Lord? Yes. There is a sense in which you can look at your suffering and say, “This is evil and wicked. Satan is working in this to destroy my faith and defame God.” Yet, there is also a sense in which you can look at your suffering and say, “The Lord is sovereignly working here for my good and his glory. He has not abandoned me and he will not let Satan win through this suffering. God will sustain me…I will know more of him and his goodness as a result and the world will see more of him and his glory.”

Through our suffering, we come to know more of Christ and make more of Christ known to the world!

No suffering wins! Christ wins! Grace wins! God will be glorified and our hearts will be satisfied in him!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.