2 Corinthians 12:9-10 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.
This is an enormously important passage that runs directly counter to our fleshly impulses. We don’t like to be weak! However, it’s a foregone conclusion that, as Paul himself pointed out, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25) If we want God to work, we’ve got to get out of the way! The sad thing is, too often we’d rather muddle through in our own weakness and foolishness, because we want to be “independent.” How can we be independent when it is only by God’s grace that we exist at all? Physicists have posited a “strong force” and a “weak force” that make the universe behave as it does, but they still aren’t sure at all why it doesn’t just dissolve into disassociated particles. I’ve got a clue for them: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) Christ is the “cosmic glue” they’ve been trying to discover! Paul received a lot of revelation of the mysteries of God, (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) and He had him write them down for our benefit. What we have here is another of those counter-intuitive mysteries, that when we are weak, then we are strong. The most dangerous thing about pride is that it deceives us into thinking we don’t need God, or that we can appropriate His attributes in fullness. That’s exactly what the devil dangled in front of Eve in the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:5) The better we understand our total dependence on God, and rejoice in it, the more He will be able to do in and through us.
I remember my mother telling me about one time we had a family emergency and she had to fly to the US by herself to deal with it. She was using the Good News translation (TEV) for her devotions at that point, and was reading the Bible on the plane, and got to this passage. The TEV renders it as, “My grace is all you need.” That really spoke to her, and it sustained her not only through that emergency but for the rest of her life, all the way through my father’s death and her own bout with the cancer that took her life. Even more personally for me, I can never forget the time the Lord got it through to me that He’s smart and I’m not. I’ve never been particularly proficient at sports, so “strength” was never a major consideration for me. However, I was proud of my mind! I had long acknowledged that God was smarter than I was, but I still placed myself somewhere on the same scale. How foolish! I’ve got to remember Jesus’ plain, unvarnished words: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Sometimes I just have to ask myself, “What part of nothing don’t you understand?” Like Paul, I need to rejoice in my limitations, since they are opportunities for God to manifest Himself. Like my mother, I need to rest in complete peace that God’s grace is indeed all I need.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the many things each day that remind me of my dependence on You. Help me be a good steward of all that You place in my hands, but never for a moment think that I’m the source of any of it. My I be fully useful to You as Your instrument, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!