Last week, I shared a sermon at Journey Church, which I titled “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
This is a photo of me on Mt Kilimanjaro. Climbing this mountain was one of the most physically & emotionally challenging experiences I have ever gone through. Yet, I can say that the struggle made the triumph of the summit all the more rewarding. I learned so much about myself through this experience, and I feel like that is largely true of any type of hardship we go through.
A lot of people question the purpose of suffering. If God is love, and He is as good as everyone talks about, then why did _______ happen? I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that yes, God is love, but love can be painful. The purpose of suffering is not just because God wants you in pain, but because He is doing a deep work in you. A good father isn’t one that shelters his children but one that allows them to go through things that will mold and shape their character, that they might become the person that they are created to be.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This passage is really rich with biblical language – I want to encourage you to listen to my sermon to hear an explanation of the significance of these words as I exegete these verses. Keeping this in mind, the “Kelly” translation of this verse is:
You need nothing more than God’s grace, because His resurrection power is completing a process in you. Therefore, rejoice in your powerlessness, because as your weakness increases, God’s power grows and dwells within you.
CS Lewis said “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The fact of the matter is, suffering is, well, painful. How do we rejoice in the midst of it?
We can rejoice in these sufferings because God is taking us through trials which humble us, taking our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus. We begin to understand that we can accomplish nothing without His strength. Through our weaknesses, He shines through and is glorified. Because when we become less, Christ in us becomes more.
What I want to challenge you today is – in those moments, who do you turn your eyes to? Do you grit your teeth and fight through it, or are you quick to God and admit your need for His help?
Personally, I tend to turn inward, gritting my teeth and bearing it in my own power, saying, “I can do this!” Or, sometimes I turn away from the pain, doing what I can to change the circumstances and making myself comfortable.
But in reality, the only proper response is to say, “Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me. Give me power in my weakness.”
Terry Fullam said that there is one prayer that is irresistible to God: “Whenever we ask him for the grace, the wisdom, the insight, the knowledge, the courage, the resources to accomplish what He has assigned us to do.” This prayer is irresistible to God because it’s an acknowledgement that we are nothing without Him.
So this week, in your moments of greatest weakness, I want to challenge you to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” You’re literally asking God to pour His strength through you. And He will. He delights to.
The reality is that in heaven, it won’t matter how rich you were, or how prominent you were. All that will matter is how wonderfully the strength of God poured through your weaknesses.
There’s more! To hear my entire sermon, and some stories of how God has turned my greatest weaknesses into strengths, click here: http://jcboston.org/weak-strong/