“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9
Whenever I went through difficult times, people would encourage me to be strong. I’ve also encouraged others to do the same. “Be strong”. “Hang in there”. So, we would suck it up, soldier on and do our best to keep it moving. We just couldn’t afford to be weak, right? From the world’s perspective, weak is bad and strong is good. Unsurprisingly, God doesn’t quite see it this way. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, and throughout scripture, God offers us a totally different perspective on what it actually means to be strong. True strength doesn’t originate within us. It comes to us through God and especially when we are at our weakest.
At times, we tend to rely on our perception of what it means to be strong rather than actually depending on the strength of God. How can we tell when we’re doing this? We encroach on God’s territory. We try to be God by bearing weight God never asked us to bear. Eventually, the stress of this “divine weight” takes its toll on us. And, sooner or later, we run out of gas, or what we’ve called “strength”. We may not realize it, but this posture is born of pride. “Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” (Psalm 131:1) Kind of tricky, right? It’s not until we’re weary, sick and exhausted that we realize we’re in over our heads. But that’s the devious subtlety of pride. We don’t recognize we’ve chosen self-will over God’s will. To counter this, we must understand our strength originates from God and operates through our complete dependence on Him, rather than our independence. In this way, God gets the glory, not us.
With the understanding that God is the source of our strength, we no longer have to be afraid of our weaknesses. “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 Corinthians 12:10) How does our weakness make us stronger? Because it places our focus on God, which keeps us in perfect peace. It also exemplifies His power. When we recognize our weakness, we humble ourselves and willingly move out of God’s way. We “let go and let God.” We make room for God to move in our lives and do things we could never accomplish in our own strength. This happens when we seek God’s will, relying on His strength, not our own. “...Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10)
This is the gift of grace, which God makes available to us every single day. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but with His strength we can do all things! I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:16) So, we can retire our capes. We don’t have to be the superheroes in our own lives or in the lives of others. God is our hero, and He certainly doesn’t need our help to be God. This is pride at work, and pride stands between us and God. Not to mention, it typically leaves us devastatingly exhausted and never quite at peace. But, when we flip the script and begin to understand all strength is a gift of grace, born out of our weakness, we are able to do all things because we finally realize where our strength truly comes from.
Prayer: Father, I worship and adore you. I praise your holy name. Thank you for the wonderful gift of grace. Help me to rejoice in my weaknesses instead of denying them. You have promised me that your grace is enough. You are the source of my strength. I don’t have to be my own hero anymore. I have your grace. I have you, and you are all I will ever need. In Jesus’ beautiful name I pray. Amen.