Power is perfected in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. 5 On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. 6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
I’ve often heard people say, regarding a sickness, disease or disability that it may be their cross to bear. Indeed in Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus does say: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Isaiah 53:5-6 says: He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. Jesus bore our sins, our sicknesses and diseases on the cross. The cross we take up daily is to be a cross of denial not a cross of suffering. If we believe we are forgiven in Christ, we should also believe He bore our sicknesses; that we are healed. In John 19:30, when Jesus was on the cross, He said: “It is finished.” Jesus fully accomplished, through His suffering, all that was needed for our redemption from sin, our reconcilliation to God and our restoration to all that God intended for us from the beginning; that we were created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26) that His plans for us are for our good, to prosper us, not to harm us; to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We do not lack because of the finished work of the cross. Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. What we lack is not the finished work, but rather the manifestation of the finished work on earth as it is in heaven.
Still, in today’s text Paul says: Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” It may seem to be merely symantics, but there is a difference between a thorn in the flesh and a cross to bear. A cross is an instrument of suffering and death. A thorn in the flesh, while uncomfortable, is certainly not fatal. Paul says the reason for the thorn in his flesh was to keep him humble; so that he would not exhalt himself for all the revelations he was given or the difficulties he experienced in Christ. Like Paul, we should ask God to remove anything that hinders us. In Luke 11:5-10 Jesus tells a parable about persistent prayer. He says: “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” We should continue to ask God to take away anything that hinders us unless or until, like Paul, He reveals to us His all sufficient grace. Then, like Paul, we no longer view it as suffering, but rather as a reminder that we are perfected in Christ; that God’s power is perfected in our weakness. In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says: I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That should be our perspective also; that we are content in whatever state we are in. Our suffering in this life cannot compare to the glory we have in eternity because of Christ’s suffering for us. Paul says: Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. We should not have our identity in our suffering. Our identity is in Christ. It is not that we actually take pride in our suffering. Our boast is not about what we bear for Christ’s sake, but rather our boast is that, because He suffered for us, the power of Christ dwells in us.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for the finished work of the cross. That because You suffered for me, I do not need to suffer. I may endure tribulation in this world, but You have overcome the world and in You, I too have overcome. I can do all things in the strength that I have through Your indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus, You said that we would receive power to be Your witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. My testimony is that because You suffered for me I am content in all things. I know that Your plans are for my good. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.