How God has helped Paul
1 I must continue to praise myself. It will not really help you, but I will tell you anyway. The Lord has shown me special things, like in a dream. 2 I know a certain man who belongs to Christ. 14 years ago, God quickly took this man up to the third heaven. Perhaps this man was still in his body. Perhaps he had gone away from his body. I do not know. Only God knows. 3-4 I know that God took this man up to paradise. I do not know whether this man was still in his body or not. Only God knows. When this man was in heaven, he heard about secret things. Those are things that no words can describe. God will not let any person speak about those things. They are too special.
12:3-4Paul is probably speaking about himself in these verses, but he speaks as if it is someone else. The third heaven (or highest heaven) is the place where God himself lives.
5 I will say proud things about a man like that. But I will not be proud of anything good about myself. I will only be proud of things that show my weakness. 6 If I did want to praise myself, that would not make me a fool. No, because I would be saying true things. But I will not say good things about myself. I want everyone to think properly about me. People should look at how I live. They should think about what I say. That is enough for them to decide about me.
7 Yes, God did show me many things that were very special. But he did not want me to be proud because of that. So, he gave me a pain in my body, like a sharp thorn. Satan uses that pain to give me much trouble. It is like Satan's angel that he sends to hurt me. That certainly stops me from being proud of myself! 8 I asked the Lord three times to take this pain away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘I will be kind to you and I will help you. That will be enough for you. When you are weak, I will show that I am completely powerful to help you.’
So, I am happy to be proud about my weakness. Then I know that Christ's power will be with me. 10 That is why I am happy even when I am weak. People may insult me. They may bring me trouble. They may want to hurt me. I may have many kinds of trouble. But I am still happy because I am serving Christ. Yes, whenever I am weak, then I am strong.