Here in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, Paul has a paradoxical teaching. He explains why he refrains from boasting in his strength, even when he clearly has something to boast about. Paul had a weakness he repeatedly prayed would be removed. He records God’s answer to his prayer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I bet the church in Corinth had the same initial reaction most of us would have to this statement – disbelief! On a human level, strength is valuable currency. We strive to achieve it and admire those who have attained elite levels of athleticism. As a culture, we are generally neither inspired by nor attracted to weakness.
Before we had our yard regraded, water poured into our basement on a few occasions. I recall one of these times thinking “I can’t do this again.” All the mud, water, mess, cleaning, contractors, replacing of destroyed items – overwhelmed me. However, in this state of mind – upset, fearful, vigilant – I was more likely to reach out for and depend on Jesus. And I was also more likely to be kind, loving and grateful for people around me and the comforts God afforded.
However mysterious the concept of power through weakness is, I believe it is worth attempting to wrap our minds around. His power made perfect in our weakness. I wonder whether this is true because we are all, probably daily, caught up in a power struggle with God. Could it be that when we are at our lowest, weakest moments, we are more likely to be dependent; more likely to surrender; more likely to be gentle and humble; more likely to listen?
Paul goes so far as to say he delighted in weaknesses, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Belong – Because you can belong before you believe.
Think back over your past hardships or those in the lives of others around you, and see if you can spot God’s power being displayed through weakness.
Believe – Because those who belong often start to believe.
It is only natural for us to avoid hardships and difficulties, but they’re part of every person’s experience. When you find yourself in one of those moments, pray that God will show you how his power is made perfect in weakness.
Become – Because those who believe can become someone new.
Take some time to trace out the ways you have witnessed God’s power at work through human weakness. Pray that God’s spirit will show you how to cooperate with this power at work through your weakness.
Dear God, Please open my eyes to the ways I engage in power struggles with you, and help me to not only accept but delight in those weaknesses that point others to your power. Through Christ, Amen.
– By Toni Nieuwhof