7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
The apostle Paul had just described in verses 1-6 an experience he had where he was lifted up into Paradise. At that time, he heard words that he describes as 'inexpressible". Immediately after this event, God allowed Paul to experience what he called a thorn in the flesh. The word "thorn" is the word skolops in the greek transliterated word and it means a large stake. This stake seems to be impaled in Paul by either physical pains or mental anguish or possibly both. We know that Paul was often in pain from beatings and imprisonments that he received, so it is not out of the question that from those he suffered some type of ailment. But, he was also burdened from the concerns of the church (2 Corinthians 12:21; 1 Corinthians 2:3; Hebrews 11:34). Corinth was a church that greatly concerned him because of their immorality at times and their childishness (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). For this concern, Paul asked three times that the Lord take this away, but he did not.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in Weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
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.
I'm sure Paul would of instead liked it if the Lord had simply removed the thorn. But, to do so would not have been the best thing for Paul. The thorn existed so that Paul would not become prideful and therefore lose out on his reward for his work or discredit the faith that he proclaimed. While he may have felt weak when speaking for the Lord or insufficient, the Lord graciously reminded him that God's grace made him sufficient. For God's power is strengthened when he loss of self-sufficiency and independence and depend on Him. This is much the same thing as it says in john 15:4, that the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the Vine. Our reminders of our weakness make us lean more on God and trust in Him and in turn that turns into our very strength.
That feeling of insufficiency and weakness may be the very thing that brings us to our knees. We may try to do things in our own strength and ability only to find them unfulfilling and lacking. This weakness that we feel in our self sufficiency is God way to causing us to long for Him and to seek Him. Then he is allowed to bring out real power and glory for Himself. It is God's way of calling out to us when we realize our own weakness that we were never meant to walk the christian life on our own strength or power in the first place.