January 25, 2010

Power Made Perfect

Paul writes, after describing the "thorn" in his side:
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.
2 Corinthians 12:9
I read this verse a few weeks ago, and it has been on my heart ever since... what has stuck with me most was the phrase "my power is made perfect in weakness." Here is our God, the creator of the universe, Lord over and above time, saying that His power can be made perfect in our lives when we are weak. Not to say that He isn't all-powerful when we are not weak; when we are weak, though, His power is fully realized in our lives. When we are weak, God can be even more evident in our lives. When we are weak, His power is made perfect.

It's difficult to really convey the true weight of this statement, to get past our "Sunday School mindsets" and really sink our teeth into the meaning... let's look at Paul's predicament concerning weakness immediately prior to this verse.
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.
2 Corinthians 12:7-8
When we disconnect this part from what follows, we see Paul's original situation before he learned the lesson. He was getting to do great things, so to keep him humble God gave him a "thorn in [his] flesh, a messenger of Satan" that was a great hindrance. One that made Paul plead with God several times to remove it. But when Paul asks for the really painful thing to be taken away, how does God respond?
"...my power is made perfect in weakness."
Not only do trials develop in us perseverance and help us to become "mature and complete" (James 1:2-4), but God's power is made perfect when we are weak.

God is big. Don't you want His power to be made perfect in your life? When we are weak, all credit goes to Him because we sure aren't strong enough; when we are weak, He gives us a peace that "passes understanding." That means that from a worldly point of view, it makes absolutely no sense to have peace at that time. People will ask questions, and we must be ready to "give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

These verses are definitely for those of you who are going through a tough time and having trouble finding reasons for it or any good in it. God will work wonders in your attitude and outlook if you devote some time to talking to Him about it and reading the word as it pertains to the subject.

To balance this (so I'm not just writing about the blessings of tough times), God will bring us into times of joy when it is right. Negative situations may last a long time (Paul's thorn was definitely long-lasting, as we have no confirmation it was ever removed here on Earth), but if they last that long you will no doubt learn very well in your heart the lessons that Paul did. David, who had many a rough time, writes:
For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:10-12

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14
Tough times will last, but the goodness of the LORD is still certain, and He will lead you to a place of abundance. For me, a place of abundance has come through hitting some tough times and learning how to glorify God with them... the tough situations are still present, but now I see them differently and even thank Him for them, because His power is made perfect when I am weak.

...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 Corinthians 12:9-10

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