Weakness. Nobody enjoys feeling it. Society, at best, pities it; at worst, it condemns it. We often try and hide it, afraid what others will think about us if they ever found out about it. When asked about our weaknesses during a job interview we make up something silly like, “I work too hard, ” or “As a perfectionist I need to do everything perfectly and on time.”
It is something that we try to avoid by choosing the things that don’t require too much of us. Most of all, weakness is something we try not to feel.
The apostle Paul knew what weakness felt like. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 we read about his prayer for God to take it away. Paul figured that the weakness he was feeling was bad, an impediment to him being a good representative of Christ … That both God and an apostle like himself would be much better served if he was strong, capable, and even powerful. Surely God wanted him to be a strong Christian.
Or did He?
Apparently God saw things differently. After praying that God would remove the reason for Paul’s weakness God tells him,
“My grace is sufficient, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Did you see it? Not only is it OK to feel weak, it is required.
God’s power is made perfect not in strong, capable, powerful people, but in the weak, tired and run down….the ones who are going through difficulties and distresses … the ones who feel like life is a fight and they are losing – badly.
It is here that God makes His power perfect. Because when we are strong, capable and powerful we are more likely to trust in our own strength and live out of the flesh and thus be of no use to Him. But when we are weak, tired and run down we discover the strength that comes from Jesus living inside us [Col.1:27].
I feel the weight of living in a sin-cursed world. In counseling hurting people, I see firsthand the damage and scars left from life, never mind what I see in my own life when I look in the mirror.
Sometimes I feel tired from the monotony of everyday life, doing household chores such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping … and did I mention the laundry? And then there are the responsibilities that come with being a husband and father, which are daunting most of the time.
So I am tempted to look for opportunities to make my life easier so I don’t feel so tired, so I don’t feel weak. It may be a distraction, a hobby, something entertaining or exciting; it is something that does not require much from me. Put simply, I am looking to avoid feeling weak by looking for something that does not require that I trust Jesus.
But it is right in this moment that Jesus is calling to me…encouraging me not to check out and numb myself to the weight that I am feeling, but to take hold of His hand and experience His power in that very moment … to walk with and in Him.
When I take Him up on the offer, the feeling of weakness doesn’t suddenly disappear leaving me feeling suddenly strong. I still feel the weight of the burden and the weakness, but I discover that there is something else present. It is a strength, His strength, in the midst of feeling weak. It is His joy in the midst of feeling despair. It is His hope and peace in the midst of anxiety and fear.
Now please understand, I don’t always make this choice. Sometimes I fall for the lie that it will be easier to just avoid life and to ‘check out’, be it emotionally, mentally and/or physically. But even here Jesus is reaching out to me, hand extended, inviting me to accept His strength in the moment.
So weakness, insults, distresses, persecutions, difficulties, may not be easy, but I am learning that they are opportunities to refine my faith in Christ and discover as Paul did, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Used with permmission of the author
Ross serves as Director of Crossways to Life, 79 Weber Street East Kitchener ON. N2H 1C6 Canada www.Crosswaystolife.org
After a seven year in-depth study of the epistle to the Galatians, Mr. Sandy Gregory wrote an expository paraphrase of this New Testament book. Anyone who has studied this letter of the Apostle Paul, but still has unanswered questions about its meaning, will find this volume very helpful. As one reads the paraphrase and the expositions that are woven into the text, seemingly veiled verses–as well as the book as a whole–will open with new clarity and vitality. It is available in hardback and as an ebook on Kindle here.