In order for God to use Paul, He decided to crush him… to completely rid him of any and all strength… to put him in a place he had to completely rely upon God.  Otherwise Paul would have become proud… he would have relied upon himself… he would have become a hindrance rather than a help for the kingdom.

Think about that!  For God to use Paul, every single vestige of self reliance had to be destroyed.  And to make sure Paul’s complete reliance upon God would continue… the thing which made him rest upon God alone would always be with him (Paul called it a “thorn in the flesh,” a “Messenger {angel} of Satan”).  The only thing God promised was that along with the pain and hardship, He would turn up the grace in ever increasing measures.  The weaker Paul was, the more grace would flood his life, the more God would be glorified.

The same is true for us.  Consider what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10…

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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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.

No one is too weak to be used by God for His glory… but many are too strong. Whatever hinders God being glorified in the believer, God will pulverize for His own glory and the believer’s ultimate good.  Self reliance and pride are the biggest hindrances to the Christian’s sanctification.  The only way any believer gains power is to be completely divested of all personal strength.  The weaker the believer is, the greater God’s power is manifested.

Therefore do not say when in difficulty that Satan is after you.  He is only allowed into the believer’s life to the extent that God accomplishes His work of sanctifying us and conforming us to the image of Christ.  When we grasp that concept, THEN we will say with Paul… “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Question: What God has placed in your life to keep you from becoming conceited… prideful?  Be thankful for it!