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 (2Cor 12.7–9, ESV).
On reflection, [Paul] perceived a reason why he should have been thus afflicted; it was to keep him humble, “to keep me from becoming too conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” This thought, and Christ’s word, were enough for him. He looked no further. . . .
This attitude of Paul is a model for us. Whatever further purpose a Christian’s troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, they will always have at least that purpose which Paul’s thorn in the flesh had: They will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives. And do we ever need to know any more about them than that? Is not this enough in itself to convince us of the wisdom of God in them?
From Knowing God, 98.
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