Have you ever been in a position where things were going so well for so long that you might have been tempted to think it was all about you? One win stacked upon another for your team. And mixed in were some pretty impressive individual successes as well.
Your team’s win-loss record was flat-out amazing. And your own stat line was even more so. It was not just a single virtuoso performance. It was an entire all-star season for you!
Then came the nagging injury. And you just didn’t seem to have the edge that you once did. You were a bit off your game. Maybe more than a bit. You certainly no longer felt invincible. Weakness began to creep in. Doubt raised its ugly head.
The apostle Paul would have related. He tells the Corinthians of some amazing experiences he’s had as a Christ-follower. Amazingly, Paul had apparently been shown what heaven looks like (much like the apostle John would one day enjoy a similar vision of heaven’s throne room). And he had heard incredible things there, things that he was ordered not to repeat.
After all that, Paul felt like an all-star! And who wouldn’t? But then came the “nagging injury.” Paul was given what he calls a “thorn in the flesh.” The thorn, whatever it was, humbled Paul. It reminded him, “Despite all those wins and all-star experiences, it’s not about you. It’s about Jesus and his grace.”
For us, the beauty of what Paul is saying here is pure assurance. Our weaknesses humble us too. But this plays directly into God’s strength. When we lack humility and think we are strong (or smart, or brave, or wise, or “together”), we have less and less reason to rely on God.
Because we can just rely on ourselves instead.
But when something in life humbles us and we begin to recognize our weaknesses, ultimately we come to realize our only true option is to rely on God’s strength (for smarts, for courage, for wisdom, or for holding it together).
Paul says that, in reality, it doesn’t get any better than this. Because it’s in our weakness that we discover our true strength — Jesus! Jesus is titanium strong and diamond tough. And it’s his power resting on us that makes us titanium strong and diamond tough.
“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, NIV).
Lord Jesus, I have many weaknesses. Please forgive me for my sins. Be my strength. Let your power rest on me. I want to boast with Paul that though I am weak, in you I am strong.
Our Bible reading for Friday, September 11, is Isaiah 27:1 – 28:29, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and Psalm 106:40-48.
Header image based on "Diamond Paperweight 8-24-09 3" by Steven Depolo, CC By 2.0