Reinterpreting Our Weaknesses (Part 3)
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 (ESV)
“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When I am weak - physically sick or disabled, emotionally tapped out, mentally exhausted or spiritually dry - I do not feel strong at all. When I am weak, I feel weak. I think weak thoughts. And I have a “can’t do” or “I don’t want to do” attitude.
Weaknesses in me instinctively stir up adverse thoughts and feelings of fear, discouragement, unworthiness and sometimes even self-condemnation. All negative dispositions that I naturally seek to avoid. However, if I am to experience the power of Christ, then Paul teaches that I must persevere in trustful obedience to God even in the midst of my weaknesses.
However, how do you overcome the instinctive drive to avoid and steer clear of your weaknesses? For if you’re always avoiding circumstances where you’re weak, you’ll never discover the glorious and unimaginable power of Christ in your life. You’ll only experience the power of your own strengths.
For myself, this initial decision to walk into my weaknesses and not away from them was not made by me. Rather, it was graciously made for me. I believe that I would have never chosen to willfully enter into my weaknesses because I would have never wanted to feel fear and despair. Who relishes the thought of experiencing unworthiness or discouragement? I don’t. And I don’t know of anyone who does. So, the initial choice to walk into and through my weaknesses was one that had to be made for me.
When we are brought to the end of ourselves, to the end of our abilities, then we are forced to make a decision. Either give up in despair or keep on moving forward. If we keep moving forward, then we have to decide whether to do things pleasing to God or unscrupulously. When we entertain thoughts of doing things against our Lord’s will, then we still have not yet come to the end of ourselves. We are still trying to avoid our weaknesses. However, when we choose to continue in loving trust to the ways of our God, even in the midst of our weaknesses, then we’ve come to the place for Christ’s power rest upon us.
In this place, humility and trust in God’s goodness must reign.
Humility is being able to see yourself as you truly are - nothing more and nothing less. Until we honestly face ourselves, we will always be making excuses for our impatience, our deception and lies, our manipulations, and a host of other personal failures and mess-ups. But, once we stop making ourselves out to be what we are not and humbly acknowledge who we are, then Christ’s power can begin to remake us.
In this place, trust in God’s goodness must also endure. When you’re fearful, discouraged, feel unworthy or condemned, the default response is to think that God is not for you. But this is absolutely not true. Our feelings and desires are like the ocean tides; sometimes their high and sometimes their low. We cannot rely on them. The truth is that God is powerfully working in and through your inadequacies and the pounding waves of weaknesses will not move the enduring shoreline of God’s goodness for you.