Power In Weakness.
2 Corinthians 12
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT
Paul continued to defend his credibility and the validity of his ministry and message. Yet he did so reluctantly. Bragging and boasting about himself didn’t come easy to Paul. It wasn’t that he didn’t have a lot to brag about. It was just that he knew that his ministry wasn’t about him, and by boasting about his own accomplishments, he was inadvertently taking credit for what God had done through him. So even Paul’s attempt to promote himself ended up focusing on his weaknesses instead of his strengths. Paul had every right to boast about his accomplishments, and everything he said would have been true. But he said, “I won’t do it., because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message” (2 Corinthians 12:6 NLT). In other words, Paul wanted his life to speak for itself. And for Paul, even the trials and tribulations of life were proof of his apostleship and his calling by God. He even viewed his “thorn in the flesh” as evidence of God’s handiwork in his life. We have no idea what this infirmity or affliction was. Paul doesn’t tell us. It could have physical or spiritual in nature. But we know that Paul prayed three different times that God would remove whatever it was from his life. Paul’s perspective on this problem was that, as bad as it was, God was using it to keep him from becoming proud. This thorn in the flesh was actually driving Paul closer and making him more dependent upon God. The loving Father’s response to Paul’s request that He remove this affliction forms the core of Paul’s outlook on life. “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT).
Paul saw God’s grace even in his weaknesses and the daily struggles of life. Success or an absence of trouble was not how Paul measured the effectiveness of his life. He had come to view weakness as a blessing, not a curse. “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT). Recognition and acceptance of our weakness allows us to take our expectations off of ourselves and place our hope in God. For Paul, it would have been foolish to brag about himself or boast in his own accomplishments. God was working in him and through him – in spite of him. His weaknesses had become God’s proving ground. Which is why he could say, “I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT). What a radically different perspective that is. Paul saw weakness as an opportunity to see God’s power on display. He was constantly amazed that the God of the universe would use someone as powerless and impotent as him to accomplish His mission on this earth. The very fact that Paul was undergoing persecution, rejection, pain and suffering were ample evidence to him that God was at work in his life. His ministry was growing, even while he was suffering. His influence was increasing, even while his strength was diminishing.
Somehow, we have come to believe that the life of a Christian should be trouble-free and easy-going. We expect our path to be clear and our skies to be sunny. So when a little bit of trouble comes our way, we are shocked and surprised. We become angry and upset. We question God and wonder why He is punishing us in this way. But Paul would encourage us to see our circumstances differently. He would tell us to view our perceived troubles as opportunities to watch God work. He would beg us to embrace our weakness and impotence and turn to God for help. And then we would understand that our weaknesses really do make us strong, because our strength would be coming from the Lord. Paul was proud of his weakness. He was even willing to boast about it. It was at his greatest point of need that Paul was able to witness the great power of God. His insufficiency became the opportunity to witness God’s power and sovereignty in his life.
Father, may I continue to learn to embrace my weakness and Your power. Pride is such a powerful force in my life. I want to be self-sufficient. I want to be strong. I want to be able to handle all the problems and difficulties of life on my own. So You allow trials and troubles to expose my insufficiency and reveal my powerlessness. Then I have to turn to You. And when I do, You always show up. I gain strength as I watch You work in ways that are beyond my own capacities. Thank You for this reminder that Your power works best in my weakness. As long as I think I have what it takes to make it in this world, I will never enjoy the power available to me through You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men