'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9
That the ‘thorn in the flesh’ Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:7 is a physical weakness, and not a spiritual temptation, becomes obvious in verse 14 of the passage of today, where Paul speaks about ‘my illness’. In the next verse Paul speaks of the great love of the Galatians. He reminds them of how they – had it been possible - would have torn out their eyes and given them to Paul. And when we then read: ‘See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!’ (Galatians 6:11) then it becomes very likely to us that Paul was suffering from an eye-disease that was so bad that people might despise him for it (:14).
Paul’s physical appearance was – certainly because of this illness – not exactly impressive, but the message he brought was all the more powerful. And when all human strength is extinguished, only then God’s power can be fully revealed. The great apostle Paul had to be kept small by a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. For it is not God’s purpose that his servants are so impressive that others want to follow them. No, God wants His servants to devote their lives to godless people, so that these people get to know God, will let themselves be guided by God and will submit themselves to Him so completely that Christ will be formed in them.
Paul may have been contemptible in the eyes of men, but God Himself confirmed his words by wonders and signs, which accompanied them, so that many listened to his call and submitted to Jesus unconditionally. Paul could not find rest until the mindset of Jesus took shape in the believers, indeed, until Christ Himself became visible in them.