Wednesday, February 27, 2008

glorying in weaknesses

2 Corinthians 12 has a most interesting passage in which the apostle Paul tells about a glorious revelation or experience he had of which he was not allowed to share the whole. The apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, no less than a messenger of Satan, to torment him. Why? To keep him from becoming conceited because of the surpassingly great revelations he had received.

Paul then pleaded three times with the Lord, in prayer, that this weakness would be removed. But the Lord's answer came to him:

My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Paul could then rest assured that it was okay. And he realized actually that it was more than okay. His response:
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.
When Paul realized that Christ would become more evident through his weaknesses, he not only accepted them, but embraced and even revelled in them.

The lesson for us is obvious and rather in your face. Let's not shrink back from what might seem to be rendering us of no account in life. Or what might hit us at certain times, even with what I alluded to yesterday. The trials or issues may be hitting us to keep us from becoming conceited, or because we are being disciplined in love by the Lord, or they may just be the aftereffects of sin. Yet when we repent we can be assured of God's grace, and we can go on, even when our experience at the time does not follow with us. Knowing that in the weakness we experience, Christ can be made known.

I'm glad I don't experience many times like I did for almost an entire day beginning Monday evening. I don't seem to have to have much of any thorn in my flesh, though I am quite aware of deficiencies, and the Lord has humbled me over the years through my realizations of my own weakness and limitations.

I think we can take home Paul's words, and the word of God to us, both the Lord's words to Paul, and his response- quoted above. It's really not about us either looking or feeling good, but it's all about the Lord's power being made perfect, for the display of his person and glory. That others might see Christ in and among us. That is what counts.

What about you? How do you look at this in your life? Or what might you like to share here?


preacherman said...

I know that when I am suffering I rely on God more and that builds my faith and relationship with Him. I agee with Paul, when I am weak I am strong. Great thoughts. I also know the spirit that God has given me is a spirit of Power not timidity. So we need not make excuse either.

Rachel Mc said...

I agree with Preacherman. The more life throws at me the more I cling to God and when the stressful situation is done and I look back on it, I realize God had me as tightly as I had God. That always amazes me. It seems I see God's work in a situation after the fact; when I can step back and look back and learn.

Anonymous said...

this is a very good passage. it is very hard to remember sometimes that God's way is many times the opposite of what i am seeing in the world. it is good to learn this about weekness and God's power and grace. i think it is very helpful in our walk.

Mike said...

Ahhh. There is the root of it all, GOD's glory. We tend to forget that we are here to magnify the Lord. It is not about us. Hence we will find ourselves in difficult situations or circumstances only to see the glory magnified.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I think I'm the sniveling wimp of the group, looking up at God and saying (about the thorn),"are you really sure about this?"

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Kinney. Me too. That's the one good thing about weaknesses and scars for me; it does make me know and remember that I definitely need God in Jesus. That I can't make it on my own, or really follow him. And interestingly it seems the result of this is I end up seeking God more and the point here: following him more closely.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thought about God's faithfulness to us in Jesus. Yes, as we hold on in faith to him, we find that his hold is true and nothing can take us from that.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Great point. Yes, God's way so often flies right in the face of the world. The way of Jesus is quite different than any of the worldly ways, or ways of this world.


Ted M. Gossard said...

I think it's good you ask God that, and that he wants to hear you say that. Of couree Paul pleaded, no less, with the Lord three times, before getting the clear answer. But even after the clear answer, I would be surpised if Paul didn't have his moments when he was weary of whatever that problem was, at least weary in the bearing of it.

The thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan is NOT GOOD in itself. But God using it for good as in working in all things for the good of us who love him in Jesus. I know you know all this, but I encourage you, hopefully, with these words, and also pray that God will give you relief and help with your thorn in the flesh.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, God's glory. I like that and think it must be clearly defined. It's the light of the glory of God seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

That's the glory we live in and want to manifest to the world, I believe.


Kim said...

Sometimes I wish I could see God at work while I'm experiencing the thorns - rather than in hindsight weeks, months, even years later. Sigh...I'm learning. :-)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen to that!!! Truer words were never spoken as to experience; seems next to impossible and really is, when that messenger of satan is present, and even just in the down times- true for myself. Of course we can't see God's hand at work in those terribly dark or difficult places- unless he'd give us an unusual glimpse or revelation of it, then.

We can learn to anticipate what seems so unreal to us at the time, by faith, of course. I think I'm much better at that, now that I'm nearly 52! (and over 34 years as a Christian)