My Weakness, His Strength

 To be honest, I hadn’t read my Bible in a few days (but don’t worry because you would not believe the preaching and Bible reading I get off Facebook as I scroll through! Thankful for friends who are excited about what God is doing in their lives and are sharing their testimonies with others). I had stopped at a passage I wasn’t really fond of-Paul is kind of “going off” on the Corinthian saints about something-so I was reluctant to dive into it and kept putting it off. But I finally took it to the park and cracked it open, while I was waiting for my car to get fixed, and figured I would plow through Paul’s ranting and get on to something that would actually help me. Believe it or not, his words were exactly what I needed to read!

    God’s way is always perfect.

    The passage is 2 Corinthians chapters 11 and 12 in the NLT. Paul starts out by saying that he is “talking like a fool.” He is upset because the people he introduced to Jesus are now following preachers he doesn’t approve of. He starts comparing himself with these “super apostles.” He lists the ways he is just as worthy as they are to preach the gospel-he is a Hebrew, he is an Israelite and descendant of Abraham, etc. But what absolutely kills me today is that he then begins to list his sufferings right along with his strengths. He uses a lot more ink listing his weaknesses and actually says he “would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.”

    Say WHAT??

    This is so confusing to me. Aren’t preachers-and Christians in general-supposed to be perfect? Have it all together? Isn’t that what the “super apostles” of the twenty-first century preach? That God wants us to be rich and well and successful so if we aren’t, there must be something wrong with us? I mean, how many of you have thought about putting something negative you are thinking or feeling on social media but decide against it because of how you will then be perceived? We all have. We were always taught to hide our feelings or anything negative because if we showed that we go through trials, have bad days, or doubt, then we are weak.

    But here is Paul-THE APOSTLE PAUL-finding glory in his weaknesses. The guy we put right there underneath Jesus Christ Himself as the one we should follow and emulate basically says, “Forget about my strengths, let’s focus on my weaknesses.”

    This blows my mind.

    Maybe because I feel so weak right now. Yeah, I could take a little bit of space listing the things I am good at, my past successes and strengths. But my list of weaknesses might take up a page or two. My ministry isn’t really going the way I want it to right now. I don’t feel like I’m doing much in the Kingdom. I am even dealing with sickness in my body. And this whole time, I have thought that was a bad thing. Surely God can’t use me for His glory. Apparently I have missed the mark and become disqualified somewhere in my journey. I have been feeling like I am being punished for something I have done wrong, that I should be ashamed and hide it from others.

    Come to find out, I should be shouting it from the rooftops!

    I should be glad about my shortcomings and weaknesses. I should boast about my faults and screw-ups. I should be telling everybody about how I have blown it and how I don’t feel like I am doing anything right.

    I should boast in my weakness.

    Why?

    Let’s examine chapter 12 verses 7-10; “Even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    There is so much to extrapolate from this passage. Number one, Paul and God were cool. They were on good terms or God wouldn’t be giving him supernatural visions. Yet, God allowed things to happen to Paul-bad things-to keep him in check. It’s about balance. If things went our way all of the time, we would become spoiled children, waiting on God to pull our next special favor out of His hat. But suffering gives us a reality check. It throws us off our high horses and we land flat on our backs.

    And things look different from down there.

    But boy, do we ever beg God to deliver us from our suffering! We just know that we didn’t dig ourselves into this pit, we didn’t ask for it, but here it is anyway. Surely God will get us out of this mess, won’t He? I mean, isn’t that what being a Christian is all about?

    No, ma’am. Each time, God says, “My gracious favor is all you need.” When it gets to the rubber meeting the road, God says, “Guess what? It’s not about fame or fortune, success or validation. It’s about ME.” And sometimes, apparently, He has to take it all away and strip us down to the basics to make us realize this. He will even  pull “ministry” from our lives so we can have more time to spend with Him.

    “My power works best in your weaknesses.” Wait...I thought you couldn’t work through a flawed Christian. I’ve been told that I had to have it all together before I could help others. I mean, those “super apostles,” the ones who “boast about their human achievements” while they “make you their slaves, take everything you have, take advantage of you, put on airs and slap you in the face” look like they have it all together. They say that if I have God’s “favor” I should be walking in faith and liberty and joy. But You say You work through me MORE when I am weak and flawed?

    “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.” Help me Father to be transparent enough to share with others what I am going through so the power of Christ can work through me! It is not through my own strength that I stand in Him today.

    “Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” This is key:contentment. Knowing that when we are going through tough things, it is all a part of His plan and when He has completed the work He set out to accomplish in or through us, we will be able to come through victoriously.

    We should rejoice knowing that we are just being like Jesus when we have weakness! Chapter 13 verse 4: “Although He died on the cross in weakness, He now lives by the mighty power of God. We, too, are weak but we live in Him and have God’s power.”  I share hope with you today! No matter what your circumstances or situations, God is there! He is receiving glory in your weakness.  It makes sense that we rely on His power because our own is so insignificant. He graciously gives us all we need.
    
    Let’s pray:

    Heavenly Father, I pray that you would help us to be content in whatever situations we find ourselves in today. Whether we are strong or weak, it is ALL for Your glory. Help us not to hide our weaknesses and be ashamed but to boldly boast in them. For Your glory! You are never weak and Your strength never wavers. Help us to “be glad” about our sufferings and try our best to see the good in every one of them. We need You today! Thank You for this timely word. Let it sink in, take root and produce harvest. In Your Holy Name.