Sometimes, I read a verse in the Bible that stops me in my tracks. Sometimes, it’s a verse I’ve never really looked at before, and sometimes it’s a verse that I’ve heard thousands of times, and I’ve seen it afresh.
2 Corinthians 12:9 is one of those verses which I’ve read many a time before, but that really jumped out at me afresh recently.
It hit me the other day at a prayer meeting at church. We were not looking at anything remotely to do with this passage; the Scripture we were using for the evening was 2 Chronicles 7. But for some reason, I was drawn to the verse in 2 Corinthians.
After shaking off the fear that certain members of the church would lament me for looking at another bit of Scripture from that assigned (‘That’s not what we’re praying about!’), I spent a bit of time with this verse:
‘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 weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ (2 Corinthians 12:9)
This idea that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness is completely counter-cultural, both now and when Paul penned these words. The notion of humans having to become weak in order for God’s power to become perfect is, in many ways, incomprehensible. God effectively says to us, ‘In order for you to know my power and perfection in your life, you must become weak.’
This means we have to throw away all those things that we use to build ourselves up in worldly terms. We must fling off our pride, our self-involvement, our self-reliance and our egotistical attitudes. For whilst we make these the pillars of our lives, God’s power will not be perfectly manifested in us.
This is what Paul means when he says in Romans 12:1, ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’ Becoming weak is a major part of the sacrifice we have to make if we truly want God to be fully present and working in our lives.
Contemplating embracing our weakness can be quite a complex and uncomfortable idea, especially in a world where showing weakness is pretty much the worst thing you can do.
I think a lot of it begins with humbling ourselves before God, saying that He is God and we are not. From that standpoint, we can begin the process of viewing ourselves as weak, and God as perfect and powerful. Embracing our weakness is not a degrading thing; it is the correct and holy alignment of ourselves with the mighty and powerful God who made the universe.
When we acknowledge this about ourselves, God becomes perfect in our weakness.