When You’re Pathetic, You May As Well Be Strong
It almost sounds like smack.
“When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10), says The Man. I sometimes think that only someone like Paul, the unabashed missionary-martyr, could make a blunt statement about his frailty with such understated swagger. But Paul wasn’t explaining the surprising upside of his occasional fits of weakness. He wasn’t bragging on his special superhuman powers.
Weakness, it turns out, has a God-ordained purpose; namely, to display God’s greatness as it flares through the numerous cracks in our competence.
Rather, the world-beating, death-defying strength that Paul relied on is an everyman kind of power. This grace-infused force flows constantly from the throne of Christ to anyone who recognizes the innate infirmity of their fallen mortality. When you’re pathetic, it’s not just for one day. And in paradoxical God-fashion, this is good news.
Weakness, it turns out, has a God-ordained purpose; namely, to display God’s greatness as it flares through the numerous cracks in our competence. Recognizing our inability to do anything—besides beat our heads against the wall—without the grace of Christ, results in God being glorified and us being made more like Christ. This is because God keeps a look out for people humble enough to use for his kingdom purposes. So weakness is not an excuse for our disappointing, non-saintly lives, but a catapult to fling us out of them.
Just picture Paul grinning. “Look, you’re weak. So get over it. Let Christ be strong in you.” Attempting to emulate Paul, Oswald Chambers wrote,
For you to say, "Oh, I'm no saint," is acceptable by human standards of pride but it is unconscious blasphemy against God. Why aren't you a saint? It is either because you do not want to be a saint, or that you do not believe that God can make you one.This may not be quite what I want to hear in the morning, but I think I like what he’s saying. You’re weak, so move past that, and let God carve you into the image of his son. He gets excited over people who are as pathetic as us—and know it.
Thanks to my brother Johnny, who inspired this post with his message on Sunday, 10.15.2006.