There are sections of scripture that are troubling to me. Not because I don’t understand what the writer is trying to convey, but because I do–and it goes against everything I’ve learned over the course of my life. Take 2 Corinthians 12, for instance.
In verses 9-10, Paul talks about boasting in his weaknesses; even delighting in them. That was hard for me to understand, because I think it’s more natural to be ashamed of the ways we are weak. It’s hard for me to imagine feeling delight at my lifelong struggle against food addiction, the desire to binge drink, or my occasional struggles with lust (in the form of wanting to look at inappropriate things). Not that those are my only weaknesses: just what I struggle against most frequently.
Maybe what Paul is trying to say–according to my Life Application Study Bible–is that when we are strong in our abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God’s work on our own. That can lead to pride.
For me, that means if I was talking to someone about resisting the urge to empty a 12 pack or click on the wrong web site and saying that it was easy not to do it, or that I could resist because I was strong I would be full of what my son calls “peepoo.”
I am able (mostly) to resist these inclinations and others because God gives me that ability. Left to my own, I wouldn’t even try to resist. So if I accomplish something in spite of the things I struggle with, it means so much more. And only then am I strong.
It’s interesting how that works, because it shouldn’t. I guess God knows more of my strengths and affinities than I do. Where I see a weak pile of desire, addiction, and sin, God sees something else. And in spite of my own callow nature he is somehow able to use me, and my weaknesses.
That’s pretty amazing.
One thought on “Strength in Weakness”
I think Paul realized that his weaknesses gave him opportunities to “brag” (talk) about how God had strengthened him in those areas. On the other hand, If he was naturally gifted in certain ways – though even that ability is from God – it wouldn’t speak so much about God’s intervening to help him. In your “about twilk68″, you said “I will never tire of telling people about the work done in my life”. Same with Paul. And same with me. I’m naturally BENT in certain ways, yet somehow God has intervened in my life to straighten me out. (An on-going process). Like the chiropractor’s straightening, it’s not always an easy process, but a necessary one. Some of that stuff is too painful and ugly to just share easily with the world, but at the right time and place, and for the right person, it can be invaluable to “boast” in the Lord about it.