MM00058 Strength in weakness
Mentoring Manna: Strength in weakness
© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” This world places a great value on strength and being strong. We applaud the strongest, fastest, and most powerful. There is a reason for this. The world is a bad place and the weak are its victims.
In order to survive the things we will face in life, we determine to be strong. We strive to be strong physically, emotionally, financially, domestically, and even spiritually. We build up our defenses and then guard the gates. However, there are things we will face in life that are beyond our own strength. At these times we realize that we need strength beyond ourselves.
Paul was a strong man in the revelations of the Lord. He was a man of great influence. As a result, he became a target of the enemy. A messenger of Satan was sent to beat him down. The likely messenger Satan used worked through religious adversaries that followed Paul from city to city in an attempt to discredit him, his message, and his ministry. How could Paul do the work God had sent him to do with this type of opposition, distraction, and distress? It was such a painful situation that Paul called referred to it as a “thorn in the flesh.” The cry of anyone who has experienced a literally thorn in the flesh is, “Get it out!” This Paul did when he entreated the Lord three times that this thorn would depart from his life. Did God remove this thorn? No. Sometimes God chooses to let Satan’s pressure on our lives to remain for a season. Rather than grant Paul deliverance, God granted him His grace instead.
Why did God say that His grace was sufficient for Paul? The reason is that grace is God’s power working in us to do what we cannot do in our own power. We may not acknowledge it, but the truth is, we are unable to do anything ourselves. Whatever strength we have comes from the Lord. When we forget this, we begin to feel that we are strong and do not need God. This is pride. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
God will allow us to experience the end of our own ability so that our pride is broken. It is then that we will realize how weak we really are. In our weakness and humility, God steps in to do what we are powerless to do ourselves. Through his experience Paul learned that his weakness actually placed him in a position of greater strength. As a result he declared that he would rather boast in his weakness so that the power of God could rest upon him. Paul discovered a truth that we need to embrace: In our weakness God’s power is made perfect.
Application: Do you feel like you are being beat down by a continuous barrage of circumstances? Does it seem that a messenger of Satan has been sent to bring you down? Have you done everything that you can do but things only seem to get worse? Have you come to the end of yourself? Have you cried out to the Lord for deliverance and yet the situation has not changed? During these times we must cease from our own efforts to save ourselves and humble ourselves under His mighty hand. In that place of humility God pours out His awesome grace---His power working in us to do what we could never do ourselves. His grace is more than enough for us to experience victory in every situation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the “thorn” will be taken away, but it does mean that the enemy will be defeated by God’s grace working through us. Through God’s grace, Satan’s messenger will be dismantled and God will be glorified in our lives. Sometimes the greatest testimonies people need to see are not those where we are delivered from the storm but those where God is with us in the storm. It is okay to ask God to deliver you from the storm. But if God chooses not to calm the storm, always trust that His grace is more than enough to bring you through.