In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul continues his defense to the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 11, he found it necessary to “boast” just a bit to expose the false teachers who are causing division in the church. They are teaching, falsely, that Paul is not a true apostle, and therefore, he does not have the authority that he claims.
Paul first defends himself by describing his deep love for the Corinthians and by providing an incredible list of trials and persecutions that he has endured. In chapter 12, he writes of the unique experience of being “caught up into Paradise” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). We do not fully understand all that Paul writes about, but we do know that because of the “surpassing greatness of the revelations,” he was given “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul experienced something so incredible, that in order to remain humble, to remind him of his physical weaknesses, and to incline him to rely on the grace of God, Paul was tormented by a physical ailment.
On a much different scale but in a similar way, perhaps the trials of this life should help us rely more on the grace of God. Paul concluded, “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Maybe we all need a “thorn in the flesh.”