But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
Paul continues making his case for his authority to speak into the life of the Corinthians and their congregation. In the process, he reveals a principle that is very important for us to understand. God’s objective is not to make us stronger so that we can do more things on our own. God’s objective is to do more through us because we are learning to depend more and more on his strength.
From a human perspective, this doesn’t seem to make sense. There are some parents who desire for their children to grow up and remain dependent on them, but most people would consider this a negative thing. Most parents desire for their children to grow up, become strong and capable so that they can independently take on the challenges of the adult world.
As followers of Jesus, we have a different challenge. We are engaged in a supernatural battle against Satan and his forces. God has not left us without instruction on how to approach and win this battle. The message of the gospel displayed on the cross is that to win we must trust God, be willing to die, and then be raised to new life. I believe that Jesus won the battle with Satan through his death on the cross.
Paul asked God to remove the thorn in the flesh three times and God refused. Paul had incredible faith and knew God. Almost everyone I know has a thorn in the flesh. Some of them are just annoying and others are truly limiting. What are we to do? I think we must follow Paul. We must do all we can trusting that God will supply what we cannot. After all, the objective is that people see the power of God and not us.
We also need to recognize that Paul did not fall into the traps that Satan lays out in our weakness. The most obvious one is to tempt us to believe that God is neither powerful nor good. He is both and wants to demonstrate both during our weakness. I’m an easy target for another one and that is the temptation to wallow in self-pity and quit. This is easy to do if my focus is on my circumstances. This is when I am challenged by Paul’s words and must look to God for the power to keep going.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV)
To my grandchildren:
Do your best to grow up to be the person God created you to be. Thank God for challenges and learn to trust God in and through them.