The Power of Weakness
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
Christianity is full of paradoxical statements. Christ himself loved to state His teachings in seeming paradox. For instance, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
We understand, now, what He was saying, but think of how we understand it: because we have read the entire Gospel — or at least, listened to someone who has read it. Which goes to show, once again, that if you don't read the entire Bible, you don't really understand any of it. (Peoples' lives and the doctrine of great Christian denominations will often hinge on a single word, generally taken out of context and often disputed in meaning; it is madness!)
Paul is probably talking about a serious vision problem in this passage, which he calls “a thorn in my flesh”. The more you read about Paul, the more remarkable he becomes. He was badly whipped and/or beaten numerous times; once, he was stoned and left for dead. And yet he continued to travel the known world under the most primitive circumstances, fearlessly preaching the Gospel to people who often reacted violently.
So, what is our excuse? Arthritis? Busy schedule? Shy? Here is the answer to our personal fears: Christ's power is made perfect in weakness. His greatest triumph, His greatest display of power, came out of the ultimate weakness: He was dead!
We have seen power in weakness outside of Christianity. One very tellable example is Gandhi, who led a successful political revolution without firing a shot. Compare his success to, say, the ongoing super-violent Syrian revolution, which has passed 100,000 deaths and just gets worse every day, with no end in sight.
Christ loves us for our weakness, unlike the world. The meek will inherit the earth. Humiliation, often said to be the worst human fear, leads to humility.
We suffer, as humans, in our bodies; it is unavoidable. But we should not suffer embarrassment from our weakness. Our weakness is holy; and the more fully we live in Christ, the holier our weaknesses become. Once we give ourselves to Christ, we essentially give ourselves up for dead; our life is in heaven. I am no longer a body that has a soul, as C.S. Lewis puts it, but a soul that has a body. A temporary body. So do not complain of your weaknesses, for in Christ, power is weakness, and in weakness lies the power of Christ.
Lord God, let me never complain of my weakness; but always remember that my weakness is made power in Christ. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer