My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
11 I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
“In recent decades, the world has changed dramatically; our knowledge of ourselves and our universe has increased, infrastructures have become globalized and technological developments have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other.”
“One consequence of these changes that has passed relatively unnoticed is that we each have an increasingly complex world to deal with in our daily lives, which can affect us in a number of ways – some of which may be detrimental to our well-being, and which we may not even have fully acknowledged” (https://www.lifesquared.org.uk/our-complex-world).
Modern life seems to be filled with unimaginable complexities and many seeming paradoxes. The Scriptures are complex and, in many ways, odd to us, if not even backwards. If you want to be first, you must be last. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. And if you want to be strong, you must glory in your weakness (Stanley).
Because of the demands of life, we share common experiences and emotions. We know what it feels like to be disappointed. We know the pain of embarrassment, the sting of rejection, and the sorrow of failure. Too often they expose our deepest secret fears and inadequacies. Such incidents can overwhelm us and send us into a cycle of despair and anger. But there is a more excellent way to respond.
Paul achieved tremendous personal contentment and peace. Over time he learned to view obstacles as opportunities, faults as freedoms, restrictions as releases, and ultimately defeats as victories. Paul found great value not in his strengths, but rather in his weaknesses.
Why are weaknesses valuable?
They take us to the end of ourselves. They demonstrate our limitations and inabilities. And that is exactly the point. When we are strong in ourselves, we are weak in Christ. But when we are weak in ourselves, we are strong in Christ. Strength that knows itself to be strength is actually weakness, but weakness that knows itself to be weakness is actually strength (Wiersbe).
A fundamental conundrum of human life that is each of us is born, “full of ourselves.” In the movie Avatar, Mo’at, the spiritual leader of the Omaticaya clan of the Na’vi, describes the challenge: “it is hard to fill a cup that is already full.” We have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone and grow and change. We have to be open to new ideas and new ways of getting things done. We have to learn to become weak, in order that we might become strong. We have to learn to become dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ rather than dependent upon ourselves.
The Father has an extraordinary and amazing strategy to achieve this. Rather than removing the pressure, He increases it, until our self-reliance ends, and we are brought to our knees in surrender.
Whatever brings you to your knees in weakness carries the greatest potential for your personal success and spiritual victory (Stanley). Our personal weaknesses and failures provide the foundation upon which the power of the Lord Jesus Christ can be realized in and through our lives.
REFLECT & PRAY
For many of us, exhaustion has left its mark. We are despondent and frightened. We feel lonely and misunderstood. Melancholy has become our constant companion.
Father I am so weary from trying, I am depleted and discouraged. Help me to learn how to be weak in myself and strong in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The indwelling presence of the Father is one of the many undreamed-of and wonderful gifts that the Father gave us at the moment we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. He lives in each of us. He has decided to make His unlimited resources available to us.
How exactly does this work? It is a mystery. With a little imagination, we can get to the bottom of it. Not everyone is interested in NFL football, but it does offer an excellent fantasy illustration. Consider Jerry Rice, the greatest football player of all time.
Jerry Rice owns just about every conceivable receiving record. The MVP of Super Bowl XXIII, Rice, who retired with three Super Bowl rings, caught 1,549 passes for 22,985 yards and 197 touchdowns during his 20-year-career. A model of durability and sustained excellence, Rice actually had more receiving yards in his ‘30s than in his ‘20s.
Now suppose you wanted to go out and be a receiver and did not have a clue. But somehow, you are able to mysteriously change places with Jerry Rice. He came to indwell your body. Anything that he was able to do, he could now do in and through you. Are you ready to gear up and give it a try?
That is ultimately the question that the Father asks us. The Father does not remove the pressure, but He gives us His grace so that our difficulties work for us and not against us. We moved from bondage and drudgery to freedom. When we allow the Father to live His life through us from within, we experience His all sufficient grace and strength.
When Paul accepted his affliction as a gift of God, it made it possible for God’s grace to go to work in his life. It was then that God spoke to Paul and gave him the assurance of His grace. Whenever you are going through suffering, spend extra time in the Word of God; and you can be sure God will speak to you. He always has a special message for His children when they are afflicted (Wiersbe).
One more thing, we often ask “Why”? The Father did not offer Paul explanations. Rather, the Father gave Paul a promise: My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Explanations and understanding have their place. But we, as children of the King, do not live on explanations; we live on promises. Feelings vary, but the Father’s promises never change. Promises generate faith, and faith engenders hope.
Release your fears to the Father who loves you. Let Him strengthen you. Nothing compares to the freedom that waits for you within His loving arms. Nothing will ever bring more completion to your heart and soul than knowing the strength of his indwelling, eternal power, and love (Stanley).