Buffeted But Blessed

Title: Buffeted But Blessed

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians 12 : 9-10

Author: Donnie L. Martin

Subject: Blessings; Hardships; Trials; Thanksgiving



Most of us would think the ideas of buffeting and blessing are totally foreign to one another. It’s difficult to wrap our limited insight around the biblical idea that the former could actually produce the latter. As a matter of fact, the average Christian probably isn’t the least bit concerned with understanding such a concept.

The Apostle Paul saw a definite connection between being “buffeted” and being “blessed.” This great servant of God realized that the Lord was purposeful in all He did, and in all He permitted to come into his life, whether good or ill. Paul realized that though he could not live oblivious to the billows and blows of life, it was better to look beyond them, and see the blessings of growth, effectiveness, and maturity they would inevitably produce in him.

That all sounds very noble, doesn’t it? However, as noble as this concept may sound, it is often excruciatingly difficult to seize, spiritually. It isn’t easy to learn to “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (various trials); Knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1: 2-3), as James says. It’s far easier to read the concept than to realize it. But realize it we can and must, if we are to live victoriously to the honor and glory of Christ.

In Second Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul explains what God had taught him when it seemed that life was giving him a good beating. There are some very important principles to be learned in this brief passage. Let’s consider them together.

The theme of this message is Paul list of three things for us to consider in our difficulties.

I. The Buffeting

A. Its Purpose

2 Cor. 12:7a, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelation…”

2 Cor. 12:7c, “…lest I should be exalted above measure.”

Paul indicates that one of the purposes of his buffeting was to prevent religious pride. The word “exalted” means, “to become haughty.”1 Albert Barnes notes that:

There is abundant reason to believe that Paul was naturally a proud man. He was by nature self-confident; trusting in his own talents and attainments, and eminently ambitious. When he became a Christian, therefore, one of his besetting sins would be pride; and as he had been especially favored in his call to the apostleship; in his success as a preacher; in the standing which he had among the other apostles, and in the revelations imparted to him, there was also special danger that he would become self-confident and proud of his attainments.2

If the Apostle Paul could have a problem with pride, believe me; any of us could have the same problem. As a matter of fact, most all of us have a pride problem from time to time. However, God knows how to deflate our over-inflated ego, just like this guy:

Some people think they are a wonder when they are not. I heard about a bachelor who was on an airplane. He saw a pretty stewardess and decided to get her attention.

She passed by and said, “Sir, you do not have your seat belt fastened.”

He replied, “Well, my dear, Superman doesn’t need a seat belt.”

She never hesitated, but responded immediately, “Yes, and Superman would not need an airplane either, fasten your seat belt!”3

The potential for religious pride lay in the “…abundance of the revelations” given to Paul by the Lord.

Paul was blinded on the Damascus Road, by the brightness of the glorified Christ (Acts 9: 3; 22: 6).

Paul had seen a vision in which he was instructed to go preach to the Gentiles (Acts 22: 17-21).

It was through a vision that Paul had been called to go preach the Gospel in Macedonia (Acts 16: 9).

Paul was taken up “into paradise,” where he heard “unspeakable words” (2 Cor.12: 2-4).

Paul received the revelation of divine truth concerning the “mystery” of Christ and His Church (Eph.3: 3).

Christians sometimes fail to understand that Satan will use good things to corrupt our lives. If we don’t stay alert, Satan will turn a blessing from God into boasting in the flesh.

B. Its Properties

1. It was painful.

2 Cor. 12:7b, “…a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…”

The word translated “thorn” refers to a “‘a sharp stake used for torturing or impaling someone.’”4

The word “buffet” also implies pain, in that it means, “to strike with clenched hands, to buffet with the fist.”5

One is caused to wonder why God would allow such a choice servant as Paul, to suffer this kind of satanic antagonism.

Paul said that the trials he endured were a constant reminder of his personal weakness and inability apart from the enabling power of God (2 Cor.12: 10).

Difficulties in the Christian life produce much the same effect as the ocean does upon the rocks on the shore. Rocks found in the quiet coves, separated from the crashing waves of the sea, are jagged and sharp. However, the rocks that are exposed to the constant pounding of the ocean’s waves become smooth, polished and beautiful. Satan wants to smash us with the trials and difficulties of life, while God wants to smooth and sanctify us with them.

2. It was physical.

2 Cor. 12:7b, “…in the flesh…”

Paul was simply saying that he suffered from “…a physical affliction.”6 Robertson also agrees with this deduction. He says, “Certainly it was some physical malady that persisted. All sorts of theories are held (malaria, eye-trouble, epilepsy, insomnia, migraine or sick-headache, etc.).”7

F.W. Farrar adds the following comments concerning Paul’s mysterious malady:

There have been endless conjectures as to the exact nature of this painful and most humbling physical affliction. It is only by placing side by side a great many separate passages that we are almost irresistibly led to the conclusion which is now most generally adopted, namely, that it was acute and disfiguring ophthalmia, originating in the blinding glare of the light which flashed round him at Damascus, and accompanied, as that most humiliating disease usually is, by occasional cerebral excitement.8

C. Its Producer

2 Cor. 12:7b, “…the messenger of Satan…”

The word “messenger” is the Greek word “ANGELOS,” which is the same word often translated “angel.” The “angel of Satan” was the delivery boy for the bodily affliction that Paul suffered. Though Satan or his cohorts cannot touch God’s children at will, God may sometimes use Satan and his messengers, to accomplish His divine purposes.

II. The Burden

2 Cor. 12:8, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

John 16:33b, “…In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

A. Sometime Because Of Sin

Ps. 119:67, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

B. Sometimes Come So We’ll Listen To What God Says

Ps. 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Ps.119:105, “They word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Ps.119:9, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

Folks, I don’t know about you; but when troubles come my way, my spiritual ears become finely tuned into heaven. I begin to purposely listen for the voice of God in my heart of hearts.

Two psychiatrists meet at their 20th college reunion. One is vibrant, while the other looks withered and worried. “So what’s your secret?” the older looking psychiatrist asks. “Listening to other people’s problems every day, all day long, for years on end, has made an old man of me.”

“So,” replies the younger looking one, “who listens?”9

C. Sometimes To Reveal God’s Steadfast Love For The Saints

Ps.119: 75 “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”

Prov.3: 11 “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:

12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

Chastisement should not always be taken to mean punishment for wrongdoing. Just as with an earthly parent’s dealings with their children, not all correction involves punishment. The chastening of the Lord often involves an instructional aspect. Anytime God permits difficulties to come into your life, they aren’t without purpose. If there is no known sin in your life at the time, then God may be teaching you some aspect of His character, or training you how to deal with certain spiritual issues in your life.

Paul asked God three times to remove his physical hindrance. He no doubt felt that this problem was keeping him from accomplishing more in the ministry for God. Paul thought he needed physical deliverance; but God knew that what he really needed was spiritual development. God isn’t as much concerned with the quantity of one’s labor, as He is with the quality of one’s life. God’s purpose in all of this is for your ultimate good, and His ultimate glory. Paul said it best:

Rom. 8:28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Dear troubled child of God, give your burden to the Lord. You can trust Him with it. You may say, “I thought I had given it to the Lord, but I don’t feel any better about it.” Maybe the following will help:

Lord, I’m so discouraged

I don’t know what to do.

I have so many burdens,

And I gave them all to you.

But you didn’t take them Jesus.

Will you tell me why that’s so?

The answer’s simply little one,

Because you won’t let go.10

III. The Blessing

A. The Provision Of God’s Grace

2 Cor. 12:9a, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”

Our difficulties not only reveal our innate weakness, but if we respond properly, they provide us with an opportunity to see God’s awesome power demonstrated in our behalf.

Paul learned that God was sufficient for his insufficiency.

Paul learned that his weakness and dependency was an excellent backdrop upon which to display God’s strength. This is the way God likes it.

1 Cor. 1:27-29, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

Talking about God’s grace being available for every need, and His power being sufficient for every circumstance, is merely religion rhetoric until one is placed in a situation that forces them to draw upon that grace and power. When Paul spoke of these things, he was speaking from experience. God sometimes brings His children into a situation where they are totally helpless and insufficient, so He can prove Himself to be the All Sufficient One—that He is the child of God’s sufficiency. Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians:

2 Cor.9: 8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

B. The Presence Of God’s Power

2 Cor. 12:9b, “…Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul came to understand that it was far better to endure, and even boast about his weaknesses, so that the power of God would be upon him and his ministry. This idea is brought out by the word “rest,” which means, “to spread a tent over.”11 What Paul had feared would be a detriment to his ministry was actually the means by which God kept him dependent solely upon God’s sufficiency and power for ministry.

On the coast of Labrador I’ve seen huge icebergs towering 400 feet into the air. Surprisingly, they all sail due south, right into the teeth of strong headwinds and huge opposing waves. The secret lies in the fact that nearly 90% of their bulk is concealed from view beneath the surface, where the Labrador Current takes control. This mighty force bears them along no matter how many obstacles they encounter.

In a similar fashion, consecrated Christians have a deep, supreme wisdom. Their activities will be in accordance with the purposes of the Almighty. Relying on His providential power, their true progress is not retarded despite opposing outward circumstance.12

You see, folks; problems are conducive to prayer and purging, which are conducive to spiritual power for service. God was not as concerned with changing Paul’s problems as He was with changing Paul.

C. The Pleasure Of Spiritual Contentment

2 Cor. 12:10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

The words “take pleasure” basically mean, “to be well pleased with.”13 Paul had learned to be content, even in the midst of difficulties. Paul bears this out in his words to the Philippians, when he said, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil.4: 11b).

Paul had learned to be content in the midst of life’s problems because he came to realize that it was all ultimately “…for Christ’s sake” (v. 10a)—for God’s glory (1 Cor.10: 31). It was through the weakness of Paul that the wonder of Christ was seen.

1 James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible, published by MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101; #5229 of the Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, pg. 74.

2 Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, as found in e-Sword ®, Version 9.5.1, Copyright © 2000-2009, by Rick Meyers, All rights reserved worldwide.

3 Author unknown. Acquired from www.pastorlife.com, Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor.

4 Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Encouraged, Copyright © 1984 by SP Publications, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois. All rights reserved; pg. 136.

5 W.E. Vine, with Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Copyright © 1984, 1996, by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN. All rights reserved. pg. 82.

6 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Copyright © 1983 by SP Publications, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois. All rights reserved. pg. 583.

7 A.T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures, as found in e-Sword ®, Version 9.5.1, Copyright © 2000-2009, by Rick Meyers, All rights reserved worldwide.

8 F. W. Farrar, Commentary on 2 Corinthians, as found in Pulpit Commentary, New Testament, Copyright © 2001-2006, AGES Library, LL.C.TM, P.O. Box 216, Rio, WI 53960 USA, Version 2.1.5.

9 American Health, quoted in Reader's Digest.

10 Source unknown. Acquired from bible.org.

11 Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Encouraged, Copyright © 1984 by SP Publications, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois. All rights reserved; pg. 140.

12 Author unknown. Acquired from www.pastorlife.com, Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor.

13 W.E. Vine, M.A., An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. III, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey; pg. 189.

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