Human Weakness; God’s Platform

In response to the apostle Paul’s prayer request to remove his piercing physical pain, the Lord Jesus says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This paradox might be difficult to understand for at least three reasons:

1. When we pray about our weaknesses, we usually ask and even plead with God to remove them and remove them as quickly as possible. We expect Him to answer our prayers of faith with a resounding yes. We might presume that God’s goal is to make us happy and to make us look good. So, it’s strange to us that God would say no and that He would offer what seems like a consolation prize – His grace. And that leads us to the second reason for our confusion over how Jesus responds to Paul.
2. Isn’t God’s grace just for our salvation? Yes, we are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation is not something we work for or earn in some way. It’s a free gift, graciously given to His enemies who quite frankly don’t deserve anything good from Him. After all, it’s God’s grace plus nothing equals salvation. But God’s grace doesn’t stop working when we are saved; it keeps on working, even when we are suffering. In the context of Paul’s anguish over his suffering, Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” No matter how much of it you use, His unmerited love and power never run out. What makes His grace enough for us when we are suffering? Jesus goes on to say, “For my power is made perfect in weakness.” Well, that clears it right up for us doesn’t it!? That leads us to the third reason for our confusion regarding this paradox.
3. It seems illogical to us that the power of Jesus could be made any more perfect than it already is – let alone be made perfect in our weakness. When Jesus says His “power is made perfect,” He doesn’t mean that His power is lacking in some way. He’s talking about how His power operates in those who are weak. To the degree that we rely on ourselves or on God determines how much grace will be operational in us. To put it another way, if we rely on our resources, fortitude, discipline, smarts, and grit, then God’s empowering grace will not be working in us. But if we fully accept our own inadequacies, humbly surrender ourselves to God and his purposes, and completely rely on Him, then the power of Christ will be fully operational in us. We do nothing except trust in Him to receive His empowering grace.
There would be no quick miraculous fix for Paul, but what Jesus had planned for Paul was to use his human weaknesses as a platform for demonstrating His surpassing power. And that’s why Paul would rather have God’s power at work in him than to have a perfect, pain-free existence. Suffering is awful, and Paul does not enjoy it. He experiences and feels its horror, and yet, he joyfully accepts it as part of God’s plan to showcase God’s power in him. Listen to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Like the apostle Paul, when we rely on the resurrection power of Jesus Christ by faith, then others will not only hear the gospel of Jesus Christ but see it fully operational in us. When that happens, others have the opportunity to believe and receive the life-saving and life-transforming grace of God. And as God’s empowering grace extends to more and more people so that they too turn to the Lord and rely fully on Him, then more and more people join the innumerable multitude of all those who express thanks to the glory of God (Revelation 7:9-10). Human weakness is God’s platform for showing God’s power. So, help us God for your glory and our good! Amen!

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