At times it may be hard to believe that any good can come out of our weaknesses. Contrary to how the world functions and expects, God uses what seems to be a weakness and works it for our good. This is in line with what we are told in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who love God and who have been called according to His purpose.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we find these powerful and thought-provoking words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. I believe that these words unlock one of the greatest secrets of Christian life and ministry to believers all around the world; that God’s power is channeled through human weakness.
In this letter, Paul addresses several issues. We find that Paul’s opponents had questioned the motives of his ministry and personal courage. They argued that he had suffered too much to be a spirit-filled apostle of the risen Christ. Therefore, Paul addresses this by arguing that his weakness as an apostle is the very means by which believers are comforted and God in Christ is made known to the world.
In this article, I endeavor to take a closer look at these powerful words by looking at what constitutes our weaknesses and how God’s power is made perfect in them. It is my hope that reading through this article will grant you a different perspective of your weaknesses that you may be able to live a life that is pleasing before God.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul writes: “But he 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 the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In the previous chapter, Paul had received criticism from some members of the Corinthian church. They considered him inferior to the “super-apostles” because he was not as eloquent as they were (2 Corinthians 11:5-6). To prove that he was not in any way inferior, he goes on to boast about the great things that God had done through him (2 Corinthians 11:21-33).
In chapter 12, Paul goes on to talk about a revelation he had been given by God in which he was lifted to the third heaven. This would have made him proud like the “super-apostles”. However, to keep him from being proud, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh”. The nature of this “thorn” is much disputed but most Bible scholars are of the opinion that it most likely refers to a physical condition. This was Paul’s weakness.
Just like Paul, as believers, we are also faced with weaknesses that take various forms. One example that comes to mind that we could be familiar with is an illness that will not go away, like cancer. Another example that comes to mind, and that most of us could relate with, is a weakness that is part of our personality. This could be something like being too shy or timid or being too talkative. For some, it could be a weakness like being slow of speech or even stammering.
All these and many more that I may not have mentioned are forms in which we may experience weakness. Are there any other weaknesses you can mention? Feel free to mention them in the comments section below. These weaknesses may seem formidable but the words in the verse above are very liberating: God’s grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness.
In everything we do, God is glorified by being the One who makes it possible. He is the backbone of everything we do, including obeying Him. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is the one who creates the desire in us to do what is pleasing to Him. We see this truth at work in Paul’s life in his letters to the churches.
One of the instances this is clearly visible is whereby Paul admonishes the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling and reminds them that it is God who works in them both to will and to act according to His good purpose. Here we see that unless God works in us, we cannot work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He is the One who provides the impetus.
This also applies to our weaknesses. God gives us the grace to endure our weaknesses and in so doing He is glorified and His strength and power is made perfect in us. In the process, God uses our weaknesses to teach us to depend on Him and to trust in Him and this in effect leads to our sanctification. It helps us to realize just how much we need God.
This truth finds its ultimate fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is what we celebrate during the Easter season. God used death which in this case is a form of weakness to overcome sin and the enemy by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. Now, Christ is risen and the power of sin has been overcome. And for this, we give thanks to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Endurance through difficulty and Christlike behavior are made possible by the grace of God and are modeled by God himself. These qualities are the greatest display of God’s presence, power, and glory in this fallen world.
From all this, we see that contrary to the way the world and our own human hearts naturally function, God takes what is low, despised and weak to accomplish His purposes. Weakness is not good in itself, yet it is God’s chosen means of displaying His grace and glory and power. God works out what was meant for our ruin for His good by using our weakness to display his strength. He does this by giving us the strength to endure and rejoice in our weakness for he says that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US
This means that our view of our weaknesses ought to change. We should not perceive our weaknesses as something to be entirely avoided and despised but acknowledge that God wants to demonstrate His power through them for His glory and ultimately for our sanctification.
This, in turn, means that our response to our weaknesses should be informed by this view that is according to God’s word. We should respond by turning to God to give us the strength to face our weaknesses and true to His word He will be with us at that moment for He is faithful.
As believers, we can find our rest in the assurance that Christ has already overcome the world, bearing in mind that whatever we may be going through or will go through is only light and momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Whatever weaknesses we may have or could be going through cannot even come close to what awaits us in eternity. This gives us the strength to endure, knowing that God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
God uses our weaknesses to teach us to depend on Him. The human heart is bent towards self-sufficiency and this makes us think we can do things on our own. On the contrary, God wants us to learn to trust and depend on Him. God uses our weaknesses to draw us to Himself during such times and keeps us from falling into the trap of relying on our own strength which is ultimately bound to fail and leave us feeling frustrated.
It is my hope that this has been an insightful read and an exhortation towards trusting in God and depending on Him. May God grant you to view your weaknesses as a means for His power and strength to be displayed for the honor and glory of His name and for your sanctification.
In closing, it is my prayer that God would fill you with a knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.