Weakness is Strength – Part 2 — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Weakness is Strength – Part 2 — Morning Devotions

As we are weak, we come to know that Christ is strong. As we triumph over our adversities, we are empowered by God working in us.

By Chris WittsFriday 24 Feb 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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In Part 1, I asked the question, How do you define weakness? In many ways we’re all handicapped, part of what we call the ‘walking wounded’. Being a Christian does not mean that we will escape the hardships and disabilities of life.

Abraham Lincoln said once: “Without divine assistance, I cannot succeed. With it, I cannot fail.” When we look at the Bible, we find the incredible words of the Apostle Paul, who experienced God’s message directly to him:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Another time, Paul admitted to a disability, to what he called a ‘thorn in the flesh’. We do not know just what this was although many scholars have advanced theories. Some think it may have been an illness, perhaps malaria, although Paul was fit enough to travel the known world from Palestine to Greece back and forth, to Rome, and perhaps even to Spain. Some wonder whether there may have been something wrong with his eyes.

Paul may have had some inner longing and desire which he could not fully understand. Martin Luther was wracked by anxiety and doubt. Perhaps Paul was troubled in a similar way. We do not know. What we do know is that Paul prayed three times to the Lord that his thorn in the flesh be removed. It was not. Even St Paul got the answer ‘no’ to his prayers.

Paul confessed that God had given him the gift of this thorn of suffering to keep him humble and to remind him of the common humanity he shared with all other people. We are like Paul and he is like us, sharing weakness, imperfection, sinfulness. God said to Paul and God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” As we are weak, God is strong.

A lot of this seems a puzzle to us today—it does not make a lot of sense. We admire the strong, the talented, the wealthy, the obviously successful. We want to be on the winning team. We don’t want to be seen as weak and losing!

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There Is Power In Weakness

It was no different in ancient Corinth. They liked winners too. They respected honour, money, credentials, success. Those ancient people had a harder time believing in a God who became a man, who suffered and was crucified and died. It did not make much sense to them that to become a Christian meant to follow this man who told his disciples that they should take up a cross and join him in pain and sorrow. That seemed like losing!

And if the greatest of the apostles could not get God to take away his thorn in the flesh, then who are we to promise believers that they will find earthly blessing. Followers of Jesus Christ are promised God’s presence with them but also persecution and rejection. But Paul says he is thankful even for the thorn because it is only in weakness that Christ is glorified. There is power in weakness because it is only through suffering that God’s grace is made clear.

I heard about a man who had lost his son to cancer. As hard as it has been for him and his family, he said that he has been made much more aware of God’s grace that he had been. Just making it through the day and night with his grief and loss was a sign of God’s presence. Paul explained this in another way:

But we have this treasure from God in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair ; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down and not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

Doing All Things Through Christ

As the children’s song “Jesus loves me” goes: “We are weak but He is strong, Yes, Jesus loves me.” The Bible does not give us answers as to why it was that Max Cleland landed on that grenade or why this man’s son died of cancer; we do not know why Paul was given his thorn in the flesh and he did not either. But we can say with him that our troubles are given us as opportunities to come closer to God, to rely upon our family and friends and faith.

St Paul said that our ‘weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities’ are opportunities to show God’s grace and God’s glory. As we are weak, we come to know that Christ is strong. As we suffer, we come to understand the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. As we triumph over our adversities, we are empowered by God working in us.

Paul could also say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We do not boast in strength but in our weakness. And we are all disabled, weak, in some way. But we do boast in Christ. We may be handicapped in some way, but we also have a mighty and powerful and loving God. We are strong in Christ.

Copyright 2006, James D. Kegel.
Used by permission.