Dear Precious Friends,
On this beautiful new day, this incredible gift of life, I am reminded over and over again of where our strength comes from.
“You can get through this. You’re such a strong person”. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard any variation of that phrase. I may be perceived as strong, but I am weak. All of my strength comes from God.
Our Pastor is doing an amazing series called "Twisted" and it's about how we take scripture out of context and apply it to our circumstance. We are reminded to read the entire chapter of a verse to see who the verse was written to, what was going on and to read the verses before and after so we understand the context.
In 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 Paul has some incredible words of wisdom:
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.
Paul had a weakness.
Yes, even Apostle Paul had his moments.
Yet when one envisions him, the image more easily conjured up could be that of a mighty and fearless missionary breaking boundaries to preach Jesus Christ to the Gentile world, come what persecution and tribulation his way. Formerly a fierce opponent of Jesus Christ, Saul would come to identify more as Paul (paulos meaning “small” or “humble” in Latin) so he might become smaller, and Christ all the more magnified.
Nonetheless, Paul’s letters and missionary feats portray unrelenting boldness and strength of a giant in contrast to this “weakness” he describes.
So what was the source of his strength? Paradoxically, that very strength was rooted in Paul’s own weakness, self-described as a ’messenger of Satan', some form of torture like a thorn constantly piercing him.
We can’t pinpoint what this weakness was. Perhaps the ambiguity of it is intentional, so that it may be more relatable to the many who would derive great comfort from Paul’s words in the centuries to come.
We can only speculate about the thorn which so beleaguered Paul - was it mental, physical or spiritual? Did he suffer from a physical illness? Demons from the past? Post-traumatic stress? Uncontrollable sinful inclinations? Perhaps low self-esteem, despair, failure, self-torture or bone-deep loneliness got the best of him? The list can go on, but the point is that it was unbearable and chronic. All of us have such a weakness... albeit in different forms and variations.
But out of that weakness emerged something powerful.
Weakness, pain and suffering doesn't stop there; it makes you stronger.
Consider a ballerina’s beautiful dance. Her graceful moves are made possible by her feet, which after years of practice, have become permanently disfigured. Only those who understand the discipline and hard work of a ballerina’s life will truly appreciate such feet.
Or consider an elegant swan. Beneath the serene water on which a poised swan moves along is actually the hard work of its webbed feet propelling the graceful motion that we so admire.
In this way, what we see could be just the surface. There is an unseen world we must tap into.
Paul had a chronic thorn in his flesh that caused him great anguish. He even pleaded with the Lord three times to have it taken away. The Lord’s reply was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
God used the very crux of Paul’s pain as a contact point to work His grace. Weakness opened the door for God’s intervention. In turn, this made him strong. That is why Paul is able to make this deep confession: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
In the midst of our difficulty and suffering, God is with us This is when we should seek Him more! Those moments of weakness when we plead with the Lord to take it away could be the beginning of something great -an entry point for His mercy and grace to manifest more gloriously in our life. That is why we look to God when dealing with our thorns. He fills us and perfects us! For when I am weak, then I am strong! WOW WOW WOW!
Lets go out today in His strength despite our "thorn" and be reminded like Paul that God is with us, He loves us, He NEVER GIVES US MORE THAN HE CAN HANDLE... NOT THAT WE CAN BUT THAT HE CAN HANDLE.
Let's make this day count for the kingdom. Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last.