Weakness is how his power and all-sufficient grace are seen and known. The one who is never weak, who never suffers or breaks down, will not be able to know the perfect power of God or his all-sufficient grace. So then, I will glory in my weakness that his grace and his power might rest on me! That verb “rest” means to dwell in or live in, but there must be a place in my heart for Christ to enter in.
I Am Weak
God has been teaching me a lot about weakness recently. The pressures of leading a church through a pandemic, discouragements in ministry, physical tiredness (I have three small children!) and personal sin have taken their toll and, to be honest with you, I feel a little worn out.
The phrase I’ve been using with my friends recently is ‘death by a thousand cuts’. There’s not been one major personal crisis for me or my family, more that a cumulative build-up of pressures, setbacks and discouragements have worn me down. I am not saying that I’m about to explode and go AWOL, although that is where this could lead. Nor has it been all bad. In fact lots of amazing things have happened too. I’m just saying that I feel weak.
More than that, I am weak.
I’m Not the Only One
I’m not alone in this of course. Looking at my own congregation, as well as talking with other pastors and Christians, I think a lot of us feel this way. The word I would use to describe so many of us at the moment is ‘depleted’. Our tanks are low and we’re feeling rather sore all over. We are weak.
We’re in good company though. The great apostle Paul knew weakness, speaking of it candidly and often in his writings, perhaps most famously in 2 Corinthians 12 where he says:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. 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 Cor. 12:7-10).
At the beginning of this chapter, Paul tells us that he had experienced ‘visions and revelations’ (v1) and a glimpse of Heaven (v3) and, apparently, such things can go to your head, so he needed knocking down a peg or two. Commentators debate what his thorn really was but it was certainly satanic and tormenting. It was just what Paul needed to set him straight though, to the point that he even ends up delighting in his weakness (v10).
I can’t claim heavenly revelations, but I do know what conceit is like. It’s ugly and it’s why I hate feeling weak. I want to be strong!