(Photo by Connor Moynihan on Unsplash)
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
For when I am weak, then I am strong, seems to be a contradiction. How can you be both? In 2 Corinthians 12:5-7, Paul was saying even though he had good reason to boast because of the revelations from God he was given, he was not going to boast of anything but his weakness because Paul wanted all glory to go to God. Paul also was going to delight in things people don't naturally desire or delight in. Then he recounts when he asked for the "thorn" to be removed, and God said, "No." This thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan sent to torment him and keep him from becoming proud. God said, "My power is made perfect in your weakness." It hit Paul. His weakness was a good thing. If Paul wanted to bring glory to God, what better way to do it then to let God's power work through his weakness? No one would say, "Look what Paul did!" Instead, they would say, "Look what the Lord did!" Our pastor says that empowered people magnify God. They stay humble, and they say, "Let them stare at God, not me!"
Maybe you feel weak, and you want to be strong. It seems as if your weakness hinders you. Being weak may even feel like torment at times. You say to God, "It's not fair. Why can't I be strong so I can accomplish more for You? Please take this weakness away." But God is saying the same thing He said to Paul. "No, my child. I want My power to be made perfect or complete in your weakness. You don't have to be strong all by yourself."
Consider some other Bible verses that talk about the strength and power of God:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and
the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25
For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power.
2 Corinthians 13:4
Here you see Christ crucified in weakness from man's point of view. Various people walked by and jeered, "If you're the Son of God, come down from that cross." or "Look, he can save others, but he can't save himself." I believe it took tremendous strength to stay on that cross. What people saw as powerlessness was actually strength, and three days later, He rose again and now lives in power. The weakness of His death was stronger than man's strength.
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory.
They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in power.
1 Corinthians 15:43
Someday you, too, will live in power as Christ now does. But until that day comes, like Paul, boast about your weakness so that others will see Christ's power, and He will receive the glory, not you.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Paul's final word to the Ephesians was about being strong in the Lord. You have strength when you put on the armor of God and are ready for the enemy's attacks. This armor is making you strong because it is from Him. It's not magic; it is His power at work in you.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do
not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself
intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
You have the Spirit of the Living God alive in you, and that's better than having man's strength.
I hope you are beginning to understand how having God's power work through you is better than having people praise you. The praise of men is a powerful lure to be sure. But it is also a snare. Freedom comes when you don't need people's approval because you care more about pleasing God. Since it is the Father's heart to use your weakness to magnify His power and for His glory, you can rejoice when you are weak, for Christ's sake. And you, too, will say along with Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong!"
Don Moen: Give Thanks