September 30, 2014

Strengths and Weaknesses

It has been said that sometimes our greatest strengths are also our biggest weaknesses. Life experiences – both our own, and those of others – seem to confirm that this is true. The person who thrives on pressure may eventually be broken by it. The creative genius may be so imaginative that he has trouble with the nitty-gritty realities of daily life. The trusting, generous friend can become a gullible enabler. And the detail-oriented type-A can drive himself mad with obsessive, compulsive behaviors.

Guess where I got that last example? From my own experience, I know that strengths can also be weaknesses! Because we are fallen, fragile, sinful human beings. We are not what we are created to be. We all have creases in our armor – often at precisely the places where we thought we were most stout. And so we mustn’t be overconfident. We mustn’t begin to think that our strengths are full-proof. The devil knows otherwise. And we are well if we do too!

Our greatest strengths are often also our biggest weaknesses.

And yet, the Bible also teaches that, for the Christian, the reverse is true!  Our biggest weaknesses can also, by God’s grace, become our greatest points of strength! For, as the Lord said to Paul concerning his “thorn in the flesh”: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12.9, KJV). God’s strength was made perfect in weakness – namely, in Paul’s weakness! And thus, Paul can say in the next verse: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12.10).

Isn’t that something? “When I am weak, then I am strong”? Really? Yes! Because, when I am weak, God gives me His strength! When I am weak, I have to rely upon His grace, instead of on my own abilities. And God loves to come through when we are in that frame of mind! He loves to grant us His supernatural strength when we are – and realize that we are – most weak!

It is often precisely when we are fragile and distressed that many of us most clearly understand how much we need God’s grace, is it not? Yes, when things are going well, and we seem to have it all together, our prayer lives and spiritual disciplines may sometimes be more consistent and ‘proper.’ But when we are coming apart at the seams, they are more desperate! And desperate is not a bad place to be; weak is not a bad place to be … if it drives us to rely upon God’s strength.

So yes, where I am strong, I am often also quite weak. But it is also true that “when I am weak” – and especially when I realize that I am weak, and call upon the Lord, asking for His strength – “then I am strong.”

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