“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.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
You may have heard the term “a thorn in my side,” referring to something that continually pesters or ails you. Well the term comes from the twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians. Paul explains that God has given him a thorn in his flesh – a physical pain in his side – which has kept him from becoming conceited. He explains that the pain had humbled him. He cried out to God for relief, and God answered with the verse above. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
It seems like an oxymoron. How can power be perfected in weakness? We can better understand the answer through the words of John the Baptist, who famously said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). He said this as Jesus began his ministry, bringing an end to John’s mission to prepare the people for his arrival. The meaning behind his words was that he knew that his own influence, popularity, or prominence was not the most important thing. For Jesus’ ministry to be as successful as possible, John’s must give way. After all, John knew that his purpose was to magnify Jesus, not himself. In the same way, Paul recognized through the thorn in his side that the weaker he is, the greater God’s power can be seen through him.
Another example that comes to mind is the Old Testament story of Gideon. God tells Gideon to leave behind massive portions of his army as he went to battle, so that he was hugely outnumbered. Then, when Gideon won, there was no doubt that it was the Lord who gave the Israelites the victory.
The more we humble ourselves, the more we recognize our own weakness and insufficiency, the more we can allow God to fill in the gaps. The more we allow God to work in our lives, the more powerful he is through us. Our weakness gives way to his strength, while pride and conceit refuses his help. It’s ok to be weak, because God will be strong through you. After all, isn’t it better to boast in an all-powerful God than a flawed man?
I know that I am often prideful and conceited. I don’t like to admit my own weakness. I pray that you would humble me and allow me to be an instrument for your power, not my own.
In Jesus’ Name,