Weak In Christ, But Not A Wimp! – Today’s Thoughts…
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 5, 2008
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. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Sadly, there are Christians who actually think that by their suffering, they are better Christians. Then, they quote these verses and add as an excuse: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) However, this is not only a perversion of the text, it is a misrepresentation of what Paul was writing about. The later verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13, deals with temptations and not suffering, and the verses, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, deals with Paul’s “weaknesses,” and not our convoluted empathy in thinking he is writing about what suffering we are going through at the moment.
So, what then is Paul actually speaking to us about in the above verses and what can we garner from them? Namely, the fact that God’s “grace is sufficient for you.” The trial or “suffering” you may be going through could be your personal thorn, but be careful in thinking so. (See yesterday’s thoughts on the subject.) The “way out” that most believers forget about in their “temptations” or trials is found in Jesus Christ, whose “grace is sufficient!” Therefore, stop right now in your self-pitying thought practice and despicable wallowing in your personal pain and trouble, thinking that God has given this “struggle” to you to, make you “stronger!” (Well, boohoo!) You cannot be made strong spiritually if you do not understand the spiritual truth found here. God’s strength, his grace, and his power is what is important here and not you. (The last time I looked, the Bible was about God working his grace in the world, and not about you!) God’s power can only rest on those who have come to the understanding that their life in the Lord is all there is, nothing else matters. Not their “suffering,” their “temptations,” or their trying to bear up under personal tragedy. Now, least you mistakenly think that I am saying that God does not care about us, you are wrong again! God after all did send his Son to die for us and to extend his grace to us. But get a clue here folks!
Paul was not some sadomasochist who delighted in God actually hurting him! And he never viewed God as a personal protagonist that just waited to smack him around to get his attention either. God was God and he is in control. He has provided Jesus as our means of grace. It is this grace that is sufficient for us in any circumstance we may face in this life. Sadly, I have encountered Christians who were actually happiest when they were in the midst of their personal misery, thinking they were being made stronger simply by wallowing in their own wretchedness! Hogwash! Jesus came to set the captives free from the slavery of sin, to bind up our wounds created from sin, and to give us a life more abundant in him, not to save us from the struggles of life! Paul wrote, “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.” Paul did not look for pain and suffering to make him stronger in God, instead he was well aware of how God was working in his life as he enjoyed God’s grace in Jesus. Paul needed to learn personal strength in the Lord. Therefore Paul was “delighted” in learning he was weak without Jesus. He could not have faced the insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties he did if he did not know that God’s grace was more than sufficient for him. Paul was not asking for a bigger beating from God, he was excited that he could face any circumstance, not in himself because he was weak, but in Jesus who made him strong in his grace! And dear child of the Lord, so can you!
Never delight in the false assumption that what you are going through is a “test” from God to see if you will respond by asking for more of the same. God does not want us to become spiritual self-flagellationists. He desires that we grow in his grace. God’s grace is sufficient for you every moment of every day no matter what your life may bring your way.
This article is copyrighted © 2008 by Lee Hemen and if you reprint it, reproduce it, or want to use it in any way, you must do so in its entirety or get the written permission of its author.