2 Corinthians 12:9 (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.
I prefer strength to weakness. When I am in a situation where I believe I’m adequate for the task required of me, I feel at peace. The mental, emotional, physical and intellectual energy that will be necessary to accomplish the task at hand is not dreaded but actually welcomed. I feel commendable.
Commendable? Yes, I feel commendable - worthy of praise.
When you are adequate for what’s necessary, you usually don’t recognize the feelings of worthiness that you have in your soul. You just immediately do whatever is required of you because you are sufficient for what’s needed. So, it’s a weird thought to think that a person would feel worthy of praise (commendable) when he’s simply adequate for what’s needed. For some of you, it may even seem to be a pitiful thought.
But think for a moment about how you feel when you are confronted with your insufficiencies to fulfill a need that’s required of you. In your workplace, how do you feel when you fail to finish a job or project that’s been assigned to you? In your family, how do you feel when your spouse or child tells you that they don’t feel loved or cared for by you? In your friendships, how do you feel when your friend reluctantly informs you that she’s disappointed in the way you listened to her (or more like didn’t listen to her)?
How you feel is inadequate and weak. You’ve failed to meet the needs of someone and so you feel unworthy and maybe even condemned.
This sense of unworthiness in weakness and inadequacy is exactly what Paul is speaking to in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul was pleading with the Lord to take his “thorn in flesh” away from him because he was feeling completely insufficient in being able to please and fully follow the will of the Lord.
How does the Lord answer Paul’s prayer? Does he take away his inadequacy and give him the ability to overcome his weakness? No, he doesn’t do that. What Jesus tells Paul is, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
Essentially what Jesus tells Paul is that he’s going to have to reinterpret his feelings of unworthiness in the midst of his weaknesses. He’s going to have to do this because the truth is that God greatly favors and loves him in his weakness AND God’s power is most effective in and through Paul when he is insufficient to fulfill God’s will.
To reinterpret the feelings of unworthiness and condemnation that naturally flow into our souls when we are inadequate to fulfill what’s needed is a tall order to fill. Yet, that is what has to happen in our hearts if we are going to hope in the power of Christ to work in and through our weaknesses. We are going to have to confront our inadequacies boldly and dare to believe that our feelings of unworthiness and condemnation are only empty threats from the enemy. And that God’s love for us in our weakness is greater than we could ever imagine and that His power in us is most awesome when we are at our weakest! That’s the truth and I believe that as we battle to believe it, the Spirit will actually begin to reinterpret the way we experience our inadequacies and weakness.