What could motivate you more, as you face your weakness, than these words: “My power is made perfect in weakness”?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to not like being weak. I don’t enjoy physical or spiritual weakness. I want to be right, strong, able, and in control. I don’t want to feel like I’m not up to a challenge. I don’t want to be confused or unready. I don’t want to feel unqualified for the task at hand. I don’t want to be the one who is keeping things from getting done or is holding others back. I don’t like it when it seems that there are things I should know that I don’t know. I don’t want to look back at situations with regret, wishing that I had had a stronger resolve and the power to follow through. I don’t want to stare failure in the face. I don’t want to let myself or others down. I want to have a track record that I am proud of. I don’t find weakness to be very comfortable.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want to be who I am or face who I am. And I suspect you’re a lot like me. We all dream of independent strength and ability. We all crave independent knowledge and wisdom. We all want righteousness of our own. But the fact is that not only were we not created to be independent, but also sin has ravaged us and left us even weaker and more needy. The theologians call it total depravity. It doesn’t mean that we are as bad as we could be, but that sin has done its cruel work on every aspect of our personhood. So independent strength is a delusion. This means that your weakness is not the great danger to you that you think it is. Rather, the great danger is your delusion of strength, because if you think you’re strong, then you don’t seek the help that you desperately need from the One who is the ultimate source of strength of every kind.
This is why Paul says: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9). You see, knowledge of personal weakness is a blessing from God. If you understand this, it means that, by grace, he has delivered you from bondage to the delusion of your independent ability to be what he created you to be and to do what he calls you to do. So now you are free to seek the real strength that you need, strength that is found only in his capable and gracious hands. The delusional assessment of independent strength locks you out of the place where true strength is found. The hopelessness of weakness is the only door to the hope of real strength. Grace exposes how deep your need really is, then takes you by the hand to where lasting strength can be found. So you can boast in what most people fear because you have been and are being saved by grace.
For further study and encouragement: Jeremiah 9:23–24
Taken from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp, © 2014, pp. 132-162. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.