When Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” is he implying that the strength makes him no longer weak, or that the weakness is a continual doorway into his strength in Christ? It has to be the latter, especially since the context of this statement is what Paul called a “thorn in the flesh” that God saw fit not to remove. That thorn – that weakness or brokenness – is a continual reminder of where his strength lies.
We’re not talking about a 90-pound weakling who gets tired of getting sand kicked in his face and goes an works out for a couple months so he can build up some muscle and go out there and kick some butt.
We’re talking more about what our friend Mark has to deal with every day as the results of a car accident and stroke that left him with a speech impediment and physical infirmity that causes him to have to get around in a motorized wheelchair. Mark wakes up every morning as a broken man. God so far has chosen not to change anything about that. He is not fixing Mark’s infirmity; He is asking Mark to find His strength each and every day, in and through this weakness.
Now I’m sure Mark could choose to be angry about this, or he could sulk and brood over it, or he could decide to shrug it off and go forward in God’s strength exhibiting hope, thankfulness and courage. It’s a choice he faces all the time.
It’s actually the same for all of us. We all have mental and emotional handicaps that keep us broken every day. We all wake up every morning as broken men and women. Unlike Mark, some of us can hide these pretty well. We might choose to focus on our strengths and ignore our disabilities as long as we can get away with it. But that is not transformation; that is coping.
God wants to transform us. Not that He will turn the 90-pound weakling into a 160-pound muscleman, but He wants to show His strength through every one of those 90 little pounds. He wants to empower us in our brokenness so that we, and every one else who knows us, will know where we get our strength. In other words, He wants us to kick some 90-pound butt.
This is what I meant yesterday by focusing on where you are broken. The question remains, what will we do about that? Sulk, brood, be angry, or be transformed. It’s a choice we all face every day, throughout the day.
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. (2 Corinthians 12:10)