That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 We live in a world that honors the motto “might make right.” Our society strives on strength and dislikes weaknesses. The fastest and most skilled athletes are often worshiped. Celebrities are adored for their success and fame. Influential people get recognized and are revered. Many of us work beyond exhaustion to afford the best, the fanciest, and the most glamorous lifestyle possible. Even in the body of Christ, there is a clear preference for “mega-churches.” Pastors of smaller congregations seldom get invited to national events. Not too many church planters are longing to plant churches among the poor and oppressed. Yet as I look at the life and ministry of Jesus, I see that he challenges us to rethink our theology about strength and weakness. Indeed, in Matthew 5:3, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there is the kingdom of heaven.” He followed that with “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:4-5). Not surprisingly, Paul places much emphasis on the idea of strength through weakness. Clearly, that is the message he received from the Lord who told him that His strength is made perfect in his weakness. I do not think most people clearly understand the theological and practical implications of that text. When Paul says he delights in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, and in difficulties, that is because he had already been promised the strength of God. The Almighty cannot pour his divine strength on those who are already strong. If he did, the strong would not appreciate God’s strength, they would not give God credit for it and they would rob him of his glory. Thus he told Zerubbabel, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). It is when we are at our weakest that God’s strength is at its strongest. I’ve discovered that I pray more fervently when I am in need. When sickness invades my body, I depend more on God’s healing power. My mistakes often occur when I am confident in my abilities or skills or resources. When Paul was a zealous Pharisee on the fast track to becoming the high priest, he did not have any need for Jesus. Instead, he terrorized believers of Jesus Christ. But after he had an encounter with the Lord on the road of Damascus and lost his earthly confidence and affluence, he had to rely on God’s strength and not his own power. The benefits of finding strength in our weakness are that we learn to walk by faith and in trust of Almighty God as we depend on Him to bless us. That forces us to live a life that is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). The goal of the believer is not to be weak. Rather, it is to live in the strength of God. That means walking in humility and cultivating a heart of gratitude knowing that everything we have and do is by the favor of God. Then we can be content in every situation because we know it is the will of God for our lives; and God’s will is always accompanied by God’s power. Therefore, we can see someone whose body weakens with cancer but yet praising God and encouraging others to trust in the Lord. I find more strength from the testimony of those who face adversity and are trusting God to deliver them. When I go on mission trips in underdeveloped countries, I find so much spiritual power from the saints in those countries that are serving God faithfully despite their circumstances. I can still hear the testimonies of the Saints in Haiti who shared their testimonies of the goodness of God after the devastating earthquake of 2010 that killed close to half a million people. In 2006, I went on vacation to South Africa with my family. Though I thoroughly enjoyed that experience of being in the Motherland, it was nothing compared to my experience of going on a mission trip to Niger, Africa, in 2013. In South Africa, we stayed in one of the premier resorts in the country and even spent a weekend at the home of the brother of the then president of the county (Thabo Mbeki). But in Niger, we stayed in a one-star hotel and had to eat food that was uneasy to digest. Yet I experienced the power of God in such a powerful way in Niger as we fellowshipped with Christian brothers and sisters in a predominantly Muslim country. My point is that the power of God can overwhelm our weaknesses. We need to learn to give our weaknesses to God so he can revitalize us with his strength. We do not have to be the best, the smartest, the wealthiest, the most articulate, or the most liked. God can use the blind to bring light. He can use the lame to help the crooked walk straight. If you struggle with public speaking, God can give you the courage and ability to evangelize the world as he did with Paul. Only trust him and let him turn your weakness into a strength.
Questions For Reflection
What weakness do you have that God can use to His glory? How can the Holy Spirit help you rely more on God's strength than your personal strength? What does it mean to you to find strength in weakness?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, we give our weakness to thee without shame and self-resentment. We beseech your strength in our weakness so we can be used as instruments of your will for your kingdom in Jesus’ name.