Turning weaknesses into strengths
Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 2:59 pm
The Messenger, March 24, 2011
By members of Obion County Ministerial Association
Probably the greatest Christian who ever lived was the Apostle Paul. Paul was God’s chosen man to deliver the gospel to everyone who is not a Jew. In the course of his ministry he performed miracles; he wrote nearly half of the New Testament; he started churches throughout the Roman Empire; he received spectacular visions from God; he completely fulfilled God’s calling, even to the point of death.
In the midst of Paul’s ministry God chose to give him some sort of affliction to keep him from becoming proud or arrogant. The affliction was apparently noticeable and perhaps even offensive to those who were around Paul — Paul called it “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (I Corinthians 12:7).
Paul desperately pleaded with God that the affliction be removed. During three seasons in his life Paul came to the point that he couldn’t go on if God didn’t remove this “thorn in the flesh.” Each time Paul prayed it seemed as though God were silent. Finally, after the third time, God spoke clearly and said, “No.”
Can you imagine? Here is Paul, the greatest Christian ever and yet God says no to his request. God said no to his request, but He did give Paul a promise. He said, Paul, your situation is never going to change, but here’s my promise to you: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). In other words, Paul, I’m not going to remove this seemingly unbearable situation because I want you to rely on My strength the rest of your life.
Sadly, whenever we are under pressure we rely on God, but when the pressure or situation changes for the good, we forget God. Perhaps you’re in a situation that may never change. You’re desire is for God to remove it as quickly as possible, but keep in mind this could be the very thing God uses to demonstrate His power in your life so that others are impressed not with your strength or abilities, but rather with the greatness and power of God at work in your life.
Paul finally came to the conclusion that that’s a better state to be in. Paul said, “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” (II Corinthians 12:10).
Paul decided to stop asking God to remove his affliction, and he instead accepted it as a lifelong burden. He learned to boast in this continuing weakness, so that Christ’s power would rest on him.
It can also be that way for us: In the midst of something we can’t control or change, our greatest weaknesses become God’s greatest opportunities to show Himself strong in our lives.
Dr. Vann Kissell
Troy First Baptist Church