“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 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.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10 NIV84)
The Apostle Paul had the most amazing and contrasting experiences. He was taken up to Heaven (either physically or in a dream), and he was allowed to see things that no one has ever seen before. He heard heavenly truths and saw heavenly sights. The same apostle was shipwrecked, beaten, flogged, stoned and imprisoned numerous times. He was even given a “thorn” in his flesh to keep him humble. To his prayers for peace and protection, he often got a “no” answer from the Lord. The Lord Jesus said early on that Paul “would learn what it means to suffer” for His name’s sake.
In the midst of all of these greatly contrasting life experiences, Paul said that he learned something from it all. He learned that his truly strongest moments were his weakest moments. What do I mean by that? Listen to Paul’s own words: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul learned that when he was at his weakest points from an earthly perspective, he was able to rely upon God’s strength. Jesus said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus is speaking to realities that must be understood. First, that His grace must be enough for us at the end of the day. No matter what happens to us in this life, His grace does not waiver. Second, He does His best work in and through us when we’re not in the way. We tend to rely on our own strength too often. It is only at our weakest moments that most of us finally surrender to God’s grace, power and provision. We finally let go of the control and let God chart the course.
This is a kingdom of God “pearl of wisdom” that needs to be remembered by all of us — when we are weak, then we are strong.