Friday, February 24, 2012

The Power of Weakness

The Power of Weakness
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Would you like to listen to a sob story? A tale of weakness? I know several really pathetic ones. In fact, I have one of my own. Grab the tissue box, (I jest). I call it "Woe is me." Ready? Here goes:

          Ever since I have been very young, I have been aware of my weakness. It was the third grade, and I was sitting with a group of girls, when suddenly one of them announced, "Heather has the skinniest legs, and Emily has the thickest!" Both of us were mortified at this rather rude personal remark, and I recall the heat that rushed suddenly to my face. It was true. I was a wiry little stick figure of a girl. I recall many times being picked last for teams, because I could not throw, kick, or hit a ball any distance. I recall feeling shame at my need to eat a granola bar, mid-morning in the school hallway, for my low blood sugar; the girls in class whispered about me. All throughout my childhood, I was keenly aware that I was not as strong as others. A cheer leading accident, followed by a car wreck in my teen years further weakened me, as now I dealt with chronic back and neck pain. Once pregnant with my first child, I experienced a level of weakness greater than I had ever known before. Constantly too nauseous to even down water, I had low blood sugar, low hemoglobin, low platelets, and low blood pressure for ten months. I could barely stand at times, and could lift nothing. In fact, had I, I would have likely miscarried, as I had in my previous two pregnancies. I developed sciatic issues that continue to this day, and each successive pregnancy the weakness only increased. My muscle mass decreased greatly due to months and months of bed rest, I have lost my core, and with little time to recover between babies, my body has been hit hard for eight years in a row. My weakness will likely only increase as I age. 

           Wow. A testimony of weakness. How... discouraging! Something in us just cringes at stories like mine; I even do. Who really likes listening to a sob story? In every culture and society in every age, strength has been prized and weakness despised. Such is true even in the animal kingdom. Natural selection, right?

            Well, Paul seems to think differently here in second Corinthians chapter twelve. He makes the astounding statement that he finds pleasure in being chronically sick, in being needy, in being rebuked and attacked, and in distressing situations! Why would he say this?! The answer is found in those words in red... Jesus's words: "My strength is made perfect in weakness."
           Paul understood that when he had nothing within himself to accomplish what God had called him to do, that was just when he would succeed in doing it! It is so backwards to our way of thinking. Let me put it this way, when I'm so weak that I can't do something I know God wants me to, that is when I can fully expect to have the strength to do it. How could this be? Paul tells us in verse nine that when we rejoice in our weakness, the power of Christ rests on us. The power of Christ. What is that? Oh, it's so wonderfully simple. It's the GRACE of God!!! 
           "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Notice it is not my strength, but His. And notice, too, that His strength is shown to be "perfect" when it is displayed through my weakness. Wow! The emptier I am of my own strength in an area of my life, the more perfectly His strength will be revealed through me! I get it! Paul took pleasure in his weakness because it gave him the priceless opportunity to be a vessel of God's power. God's grace was ALL over Paul's life. Grace is God's resurrection power.
           It's not available to the highly spiritual, very righteous, or super holy... but to the weak willed, weak bodied, weak minded, and weak spiritually. It's available to failures, fools, and everybody else who does not have it all together. In short, it's available for me.
         I find my calling to the ministry in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence."
          I have nothing to boast in, save the power of God's grace at work in my weakness. Thus, with Paul, I glory in my lack, my inability, and my ignorance. God will show Himself strong on my behalf.

        When there is nothing of our own efforts to get in His way, God will work powerfully through each of us. This is a reality for every believer... everyone of us. God has a calling on each of our lives. We are all called to serve Him according to the gifts He has given us, but until we allow Him to be our only strength, we will be striving out of our own resources to fulfill that calling. Then comes 'burn-out' and with it condemnation and discouragement. Have you been there? Are you there now? Oh, take heart!
          Burn-out is just a friendly reminder that you were trying to do it by yourself again. He never asked you to bear that burden, or do that work for Him. It's His work, and He will do it through you. He will give you the strength to do it, without burn-out, striving, or human effort and wisdom. You see, He wants all the glory for it when it succeeds! To Him alone belongs all glory and power. Why else would we be singing songs with lyrics like that in heaven? When we get there, we will clearly see that all we ever did that counted for eternity was done in His might and for His glory. Oh, that we could all see that right now! I wish it was ever before my eyes.
           If, however, you have not been broken yet, or come to the end of yourself, ask the Lord to show you your weaknesses. When He does, rejoice! He wants to use you. In those areas, ask Him, and let Him be your strength. Watch Him show Himself strong on your behalf! There are few things more pleasurable than being powerfully used by God in utter weakness. To be so totally filled by supernatural strength of mind, heart, body, or will is nothing short of glorious! And it's available only to the weak, "that as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.'" (1 Corinthians 1:31)
            Are you base enough for His grace? :)

1 comment:

  1. I haven't stopped by Grace for Victoria lately and I'm sorry that I have not because this site always provides nourishment for my hungry, thirsty soul. Thank you Heather for your willingness to be used of Him. Our lives are not our own and while that may be disconcerting to reconcile at first, once you have, there is tremendous peace in knowing that He is in control and your life is counting for the Kingdom, even if things aren't going the way you envisioned. Mike McCrary