7 I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited.
8 I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. 9 He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. 10 Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, CEB
What does it mean for God’s power to be present in weakness? Does this mean that God somehow uses our weaknesses to exalt himself? Is he only great when he uses us as a stepping stone?
I fear some of us think this, given how I hear many people talk about God. I often hear people talk about God in such a way as to give God credit for all the positive things in their lives while they take ownership for all the negative things in their lives. In other words: God is responsible for every good we do, and we are responsible for the bad we do. That seems to easy, doesn’t it? While it may be desirable to worship a God who is totally above questions and reproach, that view doesn’t have much positive to say about humanity. Under that view, we’re simply vessels that get in God’s way. That’s pretty sad stuff!
How else can we view this? Think about it. We’ll discuss more in the days to come.
The point of this passage is quite different from that. Paul is talking about the times in our lives when our faith leads us to a point of utter exhaustion, or frustration, or perhaps even brokenness. What he’s saying here is that we do not need to overcome those particular hardships because God has the capacity to work through us especially when our faith has taken us to the depths. And, if God can clearly be seen even in the depths of human weakness and frailty, then doesn’t this actually speak quite highly of God? His messengers need not be perfect nor do they need to put on a false face. When we’re at the end of our rope, God can and will support and sustain us. It’s in that act that we witness and recognize “strength” in the context of “weakness”.
When you’re feeling weak, look for God. That’s when you’re most likely to find that he’s up to something.