Power in Weakness
I have seen men and women emerge from far less strenuous circumstances than the apostle Paul’s, full of anger and hostility. They were mad at God for what He did to them. But not Paul. Why? Because he recognized that what God allowed to be done to him was simply preparation for what He wanted to do for him. As Paul grew more and more dependent upon the Lord for strength, it became second nature to him. His faith in Christ grew to the point that he could say with all sincerity, “I am well content with weaknesses.”
The whole idea of being content with weakness contradicts the messages society sends us. In an age characterized by so many striving for power and control, it is unusual for people to get very excited about living in a state of weakness. But upon examining the life of the apostle Paul, one hardly gets the impression that he was a weak man. On the contrary, he debated against Christ’s apostles over the question of Gentile salvation, and he won! He spent his life preaching in the most hostile of circumstances. He planted churches throughout the major cities of Asia Minor and in the port cities along the Aegean Sea. Paul trained the first pastors and elders of these early congregations. And to top it all off, he wrote half of the New Testament!
I don’t know what you think, but that certainly doesn’t sound like a weak man to me. If Paul had been a businessman, he would have been extremely successful. He knew how to set goals and accomplish them. He understood the principles involved in motivating people. He was a mover and a shaker.
So how do we reconcile Paul’s claim to weakness with his amazing accomplishments? Simple. The answer is in the phrase “when I am weak, then I am strong.” A paraphrase of his comment would go something like this: “When I, Paul, in and of my own strength, am weak, then I, Paul, relying on the power of Christ in me, become strong, capable of whatever the Lord requires of me, full of energy and zeal to accomplish His will.”
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. 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 Cor. 12:9-10 ESV
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.1 Cor. 1:27-29 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Phil. 4:13 ESV
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”Heb. 13:6 ESV
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!1 Chr. 16:11