What subject at school are you weakest in? What’s the worst grade you’ve ever gotten? I’m weak in a lot of areas, not just math, but will-power also. I love gummy bears and bought a small bag of my favorite brand last week. I hid them in my desk drawer as a special treat. I intended to reward myself and eat them at 3:00pm as an afternoon treat. And, well, by 10:30am I had already eaten them!
Our passage today comes from 2 Corinthians. This letter was written by Paul to the church in Corinth. In it, he praises God who comforts His children even in their suffering. We will pick up in chapter 12 where Paul begins a discussion on a thorn in his side. Take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 now. Why does the apostle Paul say that he gladly boasts in his weaknesses? If you’re like me, you do your best to hide your weaknesses. You tuck that bad grade away and don’t snapchat it. You join the math club because, for you, algebra is a breeze. Since you’re barely passing history, you stay far away from the history society. We seek out what we excel in and put all our energy into making it better and assuring it’s in the spotlight when others are around. Since we are content in our strengths, we don’t realize how our discontent in our weaknesses is affecting our relationship with God. Discontentment is not merely making us unhappy, it’s a force in our lives distracting us from the power of God.
God Listened To Paul’s Plea To Remove His Weaknesses
Paul asked God to remove an unidentified weakness from him. Three times as a matter of fact! But God replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” There would be no removal of this weakness. Despite not getting what he wanted, Paul correctly turned to God rather than taking matters into his own hands. When I face a weakness in my life, I try to power through it on my own strength. If that doesn’t work, I google how other people have combated similar issues. All the while, I should have sought God’s strength and wisdom. Oh how we might be able to learn to turn to God in everything also! It’s so hard for me to admit my weaknesses to my closest friends and family. Even as I type these words, the Lord reminds me that I am a weak-willed creature.
God alone has the ability to remove our weaknesses. He will listen to our earnest prayer, but much like Paul’s situation, that doesn’t guarantee God will remove it. In fact, when we pray for our weakness, the Lord might reveal to us that He intends to use it for His glory.
Paul Chose To Be Content in His Weaknesses
You and I most likely hide our weaknesses. Paul, however, “gladly boasts” in his. He makes a decision to intentionally trust God’s design for his life and embraces every aspect of it. It might be easier to understand this concept by looking at a bad role model of ‘weakness acceptance’ found in the Old Testament. In Exodus 4:10-14, the Bible tells us that Moses is “slow and hesitant in speech.” Yet the Lord has called him to go before Pharaoh and to lead the Israelites out of captivity. The Lord knew that public speaking was a huge weakness for Moses. So in verses 11-12, he tells Moses, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or bind? Is it not I, Yahweh? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” How fantastic are these words of encouragement and promise of proximity that the Lord gave to Moses! Moses must have leapt with excitement and replied, “Hallelujah, Lord! Let’s get going!” – right? No. Sadly, Moses did the opposite. He hears this promise from God Himself and still says, “Please, Lord, send someone else.” So the anger of the Lord burned against Moses. His brother Aaron was given role of co-leader, which put him in the authority position to make the god of gold in Exodus 32:1. When we are confronted by our weaknesses, we are given an opportunity to respond in obedience or to rebel against God’s design for us.
God’s Glory Is Shown Clearly When We Are Content in Our Weaknesses
God’s words would have been much more clear coming from Moses’ stammering mouth than from Aaron’s perfect articulation because the people knew there was no way Moses could have spoken without the Lord’s guidance. The Lord chose Moses, weaknesses and all, to better exemplify His strength and glory to Pharaoh and the Israelites. When Jesus came to earth, He did not choose the elite or celebrities to be His disciples. Rather, they were fishermen and tax collectors. So when the disciples preached or performed miracles, people believed in God because there was no way these untrained, uneducated men could be doing these great works on their own power.
You and I may not be freeing an entire people group from slavery or performing miracles on the city streets, but we are being placed in situations where God’s glory can shine through our weaknesses. The Lord is a perfect Creator who did not make mistakes when He knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Lord will be able to use our strengths to further His kingdom. But when we join the Apostle Paul and become content in our weaknesses, the Lord’s strength alone will be seen. And we will be able to gladly boast that it’s not “our strength” but the Lord’s!
Lord, reveal our weaknesses to us so that we will be ready and willing to boast in Your strength and Your power. Thank You for creating us and help us to remember daily that You are the author of our lives. Help us lean on You for strength.
Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs