One of my goals for 2012 is to memorize 12 passages of Scripture. There are no parameters, no theme. I simply want to replace the negative junk that so often cycles through my mind with God’s truth.
And what a truth I chose to start with.
I didn’t realize it when I chose 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 as my starting passage that my discomfort with God would be brought screaming to the surface. Tucked within the confines of Paul’s second letter to the fractious Corinthians are words that Christians have drawn encouragement from for centuries. “When I am weak, then I am strong” and all that.
Ah, but let’s look at the first verse:
Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (NKJV)
Consider the original Greek words and their meanings (presented here as best a non-scholar can):
Exalted above measure – huperairomai (hooperaheeromahee): lift or raise up over some thing; lift one’s self up; be haughty; carry one’s self haughtily; behave insolently
Abundance – hyperbole (hooperbolay): throwing beyond; superiority; excellence; preeminence; beyond measure; exceedingly
Revelations – apokalupsis (apokaloopsis) – laying bare; making naked; disclosure of truth; instruction; manifestation; appearance
Thorn – skolops: pointed piece of wood; pale; stake; sharp stake; splinter
Flesh – sarx: body; sensuous nature of man; living creature
Given – didomi (didomee): give; bestow a gift; grant; let have; supply; furnish; necessary things; give what is due
Messenger – aggelos (angelos) – envoy; one who is sent
Buffet – kolaphizo (kolafidzo) – strike with the fist; give one a blow; maltreat; treat with violence
In other words
Lest I began to behave insolently because of the immeasurable amount of truth disclosed to me, a stake – a gift – was stabbed into my body, at the hand of one sent to beat me.
The depth of this verse comes to light when looked at in context, a journey that we will take together in future posts. For now, think about the fact that Paul clearly states that his pain was necessary, that it was even a gift, meant to keep him from improper pride in the face of God.
That, right there. That’s what makes me uncomfortable.
Does Scripture, and this passage specifically, teach that God actively brings pain into the lives of those He loves?
For all posts in the God with Whom we Are Uncomfortable series, go here.
6 thoughts on “The God with Whom we Are Uncomfortable: a Stake”
This topic…it touches the heart in a deep way and provokes a lot of questions. Does God really have my best interest in mind? If He gives me my struggles, how can He say He really loves me I’m always excited to read what you have to say, Marie, but I am particularly looking forward to the entries that follow this one.
I don’t doubt for a second that God has your best interests at heart and that He loves you beyond understanding. What I do wonder is if there are times when His loving care looks a whole lot different than we would expect it to. Love you, dear sister.
Marie, it is my understanding that God has never used sickness, illness or disease to teach us anything. Those are attacks of the devil. As far as Paul’s thorn in the flesh we do not know what that was. It could have been anything.
That scripture has crippled many who believe it literally that God made Paul sick. That is understandable.We hopefully will find out what that meant.
But my thinking is there are so many healing scriptures and if God wants us well that does not fit. If I had to live the rest of my life believing God did not want me well, then none of us have any reason to continue.
I’m with you on not knowing what Paul’s thorn was all about. I also agree that God wants us to be whole and well. I am chewing on the idea that He perhaps uses pain and suffering to bring about that wholeness. I don’t have a fully formed opinion yet. Thanks for your heart to show that God is indeed good and loving. That reminder is always appreciated. 🙂
Thanks for writing this; sharing what you’re learning as you dig deeper into Scripture and the hidden treasure of understanding the Greek origins and contexts of words used throughout Scripture! It is a rich text when we take in the history, language, and other elements and few take the time to devoutly study such things. I’m challenged to study my Bible more thoroughly as well now and to get on the memorization-train as I know I desperately need to continue growing in that area. One of my favorite verses is Galatians 2:20, “For I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I life by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” I would strongly encourage you to memorize that one as 1/12. Also consider 2 Corinthians 5:17. Be blessed sister!
Galatians 2:20 is a GREAT verse! Blessings to you!