The God with Whom we Are Uncomfortable: a Stake


Gentle Reader,

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?

My journey to faith. (15)

 For all posts in the God with Whom we Are Uncomfortable series, go here.