2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 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.
In this passage, Paul gives the reasons why the Lord did not answer his request to remove a specific weakness out of his life. Actually, Paul didn’t just make a simple request; Paul “pleaded” (ESV), he “implored” (NASB), and he “begged” (NCV) the Lord to take this weakness (12:7) from him, but the Lord said no. According to Paul, the Lord said no because: 1) His grace was sufficient for him and 2) His power was made perfect in weakness.
God’s grace is sufficient. The NCV translation says “enough”. God’s grace (His forgiving and undeserved favor) for Paul was enough for him. It was enough for him to be and do whatever God was calling him to be and do (1 Cor. 15:10). God’s loving and undeserved favor for Paul was what ultimately allowed him to carry out God’s will and work. The same is true for us. There is no personal weakness that can hinder the beautiful work that Jesus desires to accomplish through you. A physical disability, inoperable disease, DSM-5 diagnosis, constant headaches, or any other liability or frailty can thwart His will for your life and His desire to bless others through you. His grace is sufficient for you to do His work of love each day.
For His power is made perfect in weakness. What God is telling Paul is that His power works best and most powerfully in Paul when Paul is weak! Let’s think about that for a moment. What Jesus is saying is that when we are feeling most vulnerable and weak; when we are in a situation in which we can do nothing to change it; when we’re feeling like we can’t make it and that we’re going to fail or that we are failing… it’s then, at that very moment of total weakness, that God’s power works best in us and through us. That is what God is saying to Paul!
Now some of you are probably thinking what I’m thinking, “WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!” I hate it when I feel inadequate and helpless. The vulnerability is unnerving. So what I usually do is try to avoid every situation where I could be put in a position of helplessness or weakness. BUT, if God’s power works best when I am vulnerable and weak, then running away from situations that make me feel weak and vulnerable is actually hindering me from experiencing God’s great power in my life. My fear of weakness, my pride, actually keeps me from His strength. It keeps me from Him.
The apostle Paul loved Jesus and wanted to know Him more than anything else. And so he learned to embrace and even take joy in weakness, insults, hardships and even persecutions, all for Christ’s sake. I’m sure that the first few times were difficult for Paul as he choose to trust in Jesus’ grace and power for him in the midst of weakness. But it is clear that the more and more Paul witnessed God’s power showing up in him to accomplish His will, the more convinced he became of Jesus words to him in verse 9. How about you? Are you willing to trust that Jesus’ power works best and most powerfully in your weaknesses?