Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 11 - 12:10
“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.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Christ’s values are often the complete opposite of what we value. At that time, the church in Corinth was easily swayed to believe the teachings of false teachers. The message of the world is always comfort and security. It says, “seek money because then you will be in control of your life” or “be famous, then you will have power over many people” or “search for pleasure, you will be on top of the world!”.
Yet, these ideas of strength do not hold. Just because you are rich, famous and have all the pleasures of this world, it doesn’t mean that you will have a grip on your life. Moreover, even as Christians, if we think we are strong because we serve diligently in ministry, have a good reputation, and are looked up upon by those around us, we are also mistaken. Those are but a gift from God. If we boast in our abilities, we are stealing that which is solely God’s.
Paul teaches us that real strength is found in weakness. We all know that Paul was a man filled with strength. The way he preached boldly and fearlessly makes us look up to him. If we take a look at God’s servants throughout time, people like Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, we see how they did not quiver to defend their faith and proclaim the whole truth boldly. We often think their strength lies in their strong character and charismatic eloquence.
Yet, Paul teaches us what he had learnt from God. When he was weak, he was strong because “[God’s] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The strength of such notable Christian men lies not in their ability, but in the power of Christ which rests upon them. In and of themselves, they are weak, small, and incapable. But, God desires to use those who know they have nothing apart from Christ.
In our lives, we want to be strong. We want to be able to stand up on our two feet for ourselves. Yet, the paradox is, to be strong, we must be weak. Why? God desires us to trust in Him and not in ourselves. When we look at ourselves, we turn away from God and believe that our ways are higher than Gods. But, when we confess our sinful shortcomings and dire inability to the Lord and return to Him, there, God is our strength, and God will vindicate us.
Is God calling you to trust in Him? We often love to reject such calling and strive to take control of our lives. Towards His children, God shapes providence to rebuke and shape us into what pleases Him. For Paul, this included a painful thorn in his flesh. It included “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.” How is God shaping you? Is He calling you to admit, “Lord, apart from You I am nothing”? Only in inability can we surrender full trust and control to God. When God is in control, He will work to sanctify us and use us as His servants. Are you wholly God’s?
Lord, please teach me what it means to be weak. Help me to realise that apart from You, I am nothing. I want to trust You with my whole life. Please forgive me that I want to be in control of my life a lot of the time. I want to be strong by myself. Please teach me to be strong in You and to trust in You alone. Thank You for Your providence which shapes and teaches me. In Jesus’ name, amen.