"That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
I'm a perfectionist. I beat myself up for not doing everything completely right all the time. I'm afraid of failing. I'm afraid that I'm not good enough. I'm afraid that I'll make a fool out of myself by saying or doing the wrong thing. I'm afraid that I'll mess something up. I'm afraid that I will be alone. I'm afraid that I'll be forgotten. I'm afraid that I'll let my loved ones down.
I am afraid.
I've struggled with fear my entire life. It's my "thorn in the flesh". I've asked God to take it away, but He hasn't. Instead, He's asked to be able to work through it. Fear is my ultimate weakness, and He wants me to acknowledge that and let it become my greatest strength through Him. In realizing that I am weak, I realize that I need help. I don't know how, but it seems that a person who calls for help after a long struggle has become powerful. The act of reaching out and letting go demonstrates strength, though we often feel like we're at our weakest then.
After we fail or fall, we experience the fullness of God's love and forgiveness. If we were perfect all the time, we wouldn't need those great gifts. God didn't come to call the righteous, or perfect, but the sinners, the ones who make mistakes. We may admire from afar a person who seems to do everything perfectly, but we love the people who are more human.
St. Paul was a great man. God protected him from death many times, and Paul converted thousands of people. He talks about not becoming "too elated." I think that refers to pride and perfection. God used the "thorn" to remind Paul that there is tremendous power in being vulnerable. When we sacrifice and completely give of ourselves, we tap into a power that is beyond words. It's the power that can save the world. It's the power that can move mountains, and make the impossible become reality.
I encourage you to look for your weaknesses and become familiar with them. Face them head on. Once you're aware of how weak you are, you can begin to experience the complete and total power of Almighty God. Don't be ashamed of your weaknesses. God loves you for them, and He'll use them to grow you into His version of a perfect person.