“But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Weakness is a universal Christian experience. Sinful propensities nag at us all; emotional instability afflicts us all; Satan and his army of fallen angels antagonize us all. In the text cited above, Paul personified this frustrating reality as he shared (without specifics) a manifestation of weakness in his own life. After pleading with the Lord to remove this thorn from his flesh and being informed the Lord willed for it to remain right where it was, he ceased his pleading and began to boast in this weakness (and all his other weaknesses).
It makes sense that Paul would quit asking God to uproot this form of frailty from his life after God clearly said he would do no such thing. But why did he go so far as to begin boasting in it? He boasted because the Lord revealed to him that human weakness is a means through which divine power can be gloriously displayed. Being a man who loved the glory of God and longed for others to catch a glimpse of it, Paul rejoiced that his infirmities would be utilized for this purpose.
Is our thinking about our own weaknesses in sync with Paul’s? Do we view our frailties as channels through which God’s power can flow and as pedestals upon which it can be displayed? I think many of us do. But I think there are also a great number of us who only follow Paul’s Spirit-directed train of thought up to a certain point. We accept the reality of our present weaknesses, like he did. But unlike him, we do not allow our weaknesses to be conduits of God’s supernatural strength. Rather than letting our frailties propel us toward a deeper reliance upon God and a more robust experience of his presence in our lives, we settle into a sad, defeated, and spiritually powerless way of living.
I believe some of us need to be reminded today that God does not desire for us to live in a perpetual state of spiritual fragility. Yes, our flesh is littered with weaknesses. But God has permitted these thorns to be lodged into our sides so that we would cast aside our prideful attempts at self-sufficient living and, instead, rely heavily and continuously on his strength. God allows us to be weak so that “the power of Christ may rest upon [us]” (2 Corinthians 12:10). God allows us to be weak so that we might be “strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).
God does not want us to view our weaknesses as purposeless hindrances that we are forced to begrudgingly endure until Jesus returns. He wants us to see our weaknesses as opportunities for his strength and glory to manifest in our lives. Every bit of feebleness in our flesh can be redeemed for a holy and powerful purpose if we will allow it to drive us toward Christ and the marvelous, powerful grace he is ever willing to shower upon us (Hebrews 4:16).