By Faith, Enjoy the Torment (A Rather Upsetting Verb in Scripture)

It’s amazing to consider the overwhelming truth of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. In this passage, you’ll find another unusual and upsetting verb: torment.

Torment means severe mental or physical suffering.

Paul, at the height of his joy in all of the “surpassingly great revelations” about Jesus, simultaneously experiences torment that God allowed. Paul says this torment was “given” to him–like a gift.

He pleaded (a deeply emotional appeal) for God to save him from this torment, and God did not. Why?

Paul gives at least four reasons why this torment becomes a gift. First, you can read the passage:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

Can you imagine really, really believing this? Can you imagine truly delighting in weaknesses, insults, hardship, persecution, and difficulties? Delighting? Really? Delight means to take great pleasure in. 

But how? This sounds crazy and impossible. Here’s what I see in the passage:

The tormenting thing perfects God’s power in his life.

The tormenting thing allows God’s power to rest on Paul in a special way (as in when we learn in 1 Peter 4:14 that those tormented by insults “are blessed, for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on [them].”)

The tormenting thing allows for a special strength unknown before because of weakness.

Finally, I learn that a certain gladness and delight–even joy–comes from the torment of persecution, insult, ridicule, or exclusion. Jesus says we are blessed when this happens because of Christ.

I’m going to take this by faith today. I’m going to walk in it and rejoice because of it.

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  1. Heather, I hope you will give an update down the road. I always stumble a bit at this verse because I'm not at all sure when my torment is because of Christ but rather of my own making.

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