When I am weak ∙
For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Mark was a ten-year-old boy who wanted to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in an automobile accident.
Mark began his lessons with an aged Japanese judo master and was doing well. But after three months had passed and he had only been taught one move, he questioned the master. “This is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” was the master’s reply.
Perplexed, but trusting, Mark kept training and several months later entered his first tournament. Surprising himself, Mark won the first two matches. The third match was more difficult, but soon his opponent became impatient and charged. Mark deftly used his lone move to win the match. He was now in the finals, but this time his opponent was much larger, much stronger, and far more experienced. Mark was nervous, and it was showing in the match. The referee, concerned for Mark’s welfare, called a time-out. He was about to stop the seemingly imbalanced match when Mark’s master intervened, “Let him continue.”
The match resumed, and Mark’s opponent made a critical mistake. Instantly, Mark used his move to pin him, winning the match and the tournament. On the way home, Mark reviewed all his matches and moves with his master, finally summoning the courage to ask the question on his mind: “How did I win the tournament with only one move?”
“You won for two reasons,” the judo master answered. “First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”
Mark’s weakness had become his greatest strength (Harvey Mackay).
Each of the Father’s children has an assortment of weaknesses. Weaknesses may be physical drawbacks or emotional limitations. Added to this are the struggles and vicissitudes of everyday life. We often feel overwhelmed, defeated, and powerless. It is easy to become ashamed, embarrassed, frightened, angry, or even depressed.
The Father uses adversity and weakness in almost unimaginable ways. Our lack of power, our weakness, is actually an opportunity to experience the Father’s power.
REFLECT & PRAY
The word of God is full of seeming contradictions. 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).
Father thank You that You are intimately involved in all the circumstances of my life. Encourage me to develop the right attitudes and responses You desire for me.
William Wilberforce, who led the fight to abolish slavery in the British Empire, was physically weak and frail, but he had deep faith in God. Boswell said of him, “I saw what seemed to me a shrimp become a whale” (MacDonald).
If our natural human instincts and reactions are inadequate, with what should replace them? What should be our new paradigm for living?
The Father is working to bring balance to our lives. He is slowly but surely, inexorably, molding us, shaping us into the image of His Son. The Father is working to do away with our dependence on our limited natural resources. He wants us to depend upon Him and experience His power in our daily experience.
Consider what we know of Paul. He experienced remarkable face-to-face encounters with the living God. He was given unimaginable revelations, ability, and comprehension. He was invited and taken into heaven itself (2 Corinthians 12:2,3,10). The natural negative consequence of such remarkable privileges would be arrogant pride and boastfulness. To prevent Paul from sinning, two very grievous and overwhelming conditions became a part of his everyday life.
He was given a thorn in the flesh. The Greek word translated thorn is skolops. A skolops is frequently a pointed stake; an injurious sharp object, splinter. It may refer to “a sharp stake used for torturing or impaling” (Wiersbe).
We do not know exactly what troubled Paul, but it was some type of physical condition that caused pain and distress.
But beyond the physical was a far darker reality. Paul realized that there was a messenger of Satan at work. The Father permitted the enemy to torment Paul. The Greek word translated torment or buffet is kolaphizo. It means to strike with the fist, to beat, to mistreat, to treat roughly, to ill-treat, to afflict, to cause difficulty. Was Paul the apostle experiencing demonic harassment on top of everything else?
Paul’s thorn in the flesh was given not to make him a lesser man, but a greater man. Yet his greatness was found in his weakness. His perspective transformation is the model for us all. No matter what our personal difficulties, sufferings, hardships, or traumas may be, we can apply the same lessons that Paul learned and be encouraged.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 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.
10 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.