Weakness = Strength?

One of the many paradoxes in the Bible is this idea: weakness is strength. Lately it’s comin up everywhere in my study, so I’m taking this as a Godcidence that I need to spend some time pondering. This idea comes up in 2 Corinthians, when the apostle Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh.” We’re not sure what that thorn was — some physical ailment that many scholars believe to be poor eyesight. None of us enjoy putting up with a disability, and Paul prayed over and over to be relieved of this problem, yet it persisted. Finally he comes to the conclusion:

“But he (God) 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  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 12:9-10

It sounds counterintuitive. How can weakness equal strength? The point, of course, is that when we come to the end of our own ability, understanding or power, we have no choice but to rely upon God. I admit, I’m not very good at this. I like to plan, I like to be in control, I like to be aware of what’s about to happen next. It gives me a sense of security. God has given me some opportunities lately to let go of this need, and depend on Him. I’ve experienced some illness — nothing life-threatening, but uncomfortable and draining; and my husband is about to return from pastoring our church. Both of these circumstances have made it difficult to look ahead and feel sure about what I can or should do. Will I feel well enough to make a trip? Will I be able to continue with a particular ministry? Where will we attend worship services? To all of these questions, the only answer is; “I don’t know.” This is forcing me to live day to day and see what God has in mind.

Here’s a quote from my daily devotional:

“It is possible, I dare say, for those who will indeed draw on their Lord’s power for deliverance and victory, to live a life in which His promises are taken as they stand, and found to be true. It is possible to cast every care on Him, daily, and to be at peace amidst the pressure. It is possible to see the will of God in everything, and to find it, as one has said, no longer a sigh, but a song. It is possible, in the world of inner act and motion, to put away, all bitterness, all wrath, and anger, and evil speaking, daily and hourly. It is possible, by unreserved resort to divine power, under divine conditions, to become strongest, through and through, at our weakest point; to find the thing which yesterday upset all our obligations to patience, or to purity, or to humility, an occasion today, through Him who loveth us, and worketh in us, for a joyful consent to His will, and a delightful sense of His presence and sin-annulling power. These are things divinely possible.” Handley C. G. Moule

I’m not there yet, but I’m trying. What about you?

For more on this topic see these posts:

Surrender to Be Strong?

A Thorn in the Flesh

Grow Through Surrender and Trust

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