“How strong are you?”
I used to ask my children this when they were young. They answered in the cute way of showing off their little biceps.
But on my own journey from child to adult, I learned culture’s definition of what makes a person strong.
And I learned how weakness comes in many shapes and sizes.
Like how weight lifting proved my arms lacked physical strength. Or, how low self-esteem, anxiety or discouragement labeled me a weak soul.
Also, how failure to excel in a class, understand a concept at work, or carry strong opinions, defined me as weak-minded.
Culture teaches us to stay strong and overcome weakness because it just isn’t pretty. Yet, in my heavenly Father’s Kingdom, weakness takes on a whole new meaning.
“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. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10b ESV)
Paul’s visions and thorn in the flesh in Chapter 12, kept him from boasting in himself. He had endured many hardships and persecutions. Still, he learned his strength was found in his weakness.
While people often look down on weakness, God’s children look to Him to make us strong.
What Culture Says…What God the Father Says
Culture tells us to strive for independence. God says, Depend on Me.
Culture calls people weak who struggle to juggle all the things in life. God says, You don’t have to struggle to juggle anything. In fact, if you are doing the juggling act, you aren’t resting in Me.
Culture calls us weak unless we compete in the workplace and go for the jugular. God says, Find your identity in Me. Seek community, not competition.
Culture says we are weak if need help and we can’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. God says, Look to the hills, where does your help come? From Me the God of heaven and earth. (See Psalm 121:1.)
So the Father’s calling all perfectionists, all type-A personalities, all pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps people, every get-it-done man, woman, boy and girl.
And He’s calling all children of God who keep trying and striving to obtain the things of God on our own or living the Christian life in our own strength.
3 Ways Our Weakness Equals the Father’s Strength
(1) Weakness points to our need for a higher power.
If we were always strong, we wouldn’t need God. If we were never weak, never fell short, never failed, or always had it together, we wouldn’t need our heavenly Father who is all powerful or a Savior who’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
(2) Weakness reminds us that we have limits.
Humans are limited. The our heavenly Father is limitless. (Read Billy Graham’s devotion on our limitless God.)
Maybe we think we have to be the strong one and keep everyone on track. Yet, who’s there for us, who’s the strong one for us? The heavenly Father.
Or, we grow tired and weak from feeling like we never measure up, feeling like we are never enough. Here’s the thing: in our heavenly Father we are already enough, we already have His strength.
(3) Weakness reveals our insufficiency.
Many times we take pride in thinking we are self-sufficient in our job, in life, and so on. Yet, we are never sufficient on our own. Not only do we need other people, but also God’s “grace is sufficient” for us. Then we face each day with renewed strength.
Our New Definition of Strong
Let’s do this exercise to further grasp our new definition of strong.
Insert your name in the blank below (2 Corinthians 12:9), and then read verses 9 and 10b out loud.
The Lord’s grace is sufficient for _________, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (v.10b)