Being willingly weak is no easy call. Let’s be honest, we often spend much of our time trying to prove our worth – to ourselves, to others, even to God. But strikingly, Paul delights in weakness, even boasts about his weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9-10). In weakness?! What’s so wonderful about weakness? There are plenty of other things I would far rather boast about.
But Paul is convinced that bragging about his weakness was wonderful and worthwhile. You see Paul’s confidence rests in God’s promise that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). In other words, when we come face-to-face with our failings and weakness, we are confronted by God’s grace and power. When we realise our inadequacy, we stop glorying in ourselves and our abilities, and glory instead in God and His gospel. And others will be compelled to do the same.
I can think of situations in my life which show me just how inadequate I am: Being dyslexic, it is not uncommon for me to make embarrassing mistakes with basic reading and writing tasks, sometimes in very public ways (by the way, this blog has been edited!); Being a mum of 3 small children, it is not uncommon for me to feel totally overwhelmed and unable to cope after a bad night’s sleep; Being a counsellor, people often come to me with problems that appear insurmountable and I feel like a total fraud as I don’t have the solution they are longing for. That feeling in the pit of my stomach, the sense of shame, of anxiety, of hopelessness. Perhaps you can think of your own situations when your inadequacy hits home? When you feel inefficient, ineffective, overburdened, overworked, incompetent; simply and fundamentally weak.
Although deeply painful, it is moments like these that God’s grace tastes most sweet and refreshing. The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus came, not for those who are able and strong, but to rescue and restore weak and inadequate people. People like me and like you. And what is even more extraordinary is that not only does God rescue us in our weakness, but uses our weaknesses as a living and breathing advertisement to the world of His glory and greatness. As the Lord reminds Paul: ‘My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9).
So, for the person who struggles with chronic fatigue, or some other physical or psychological issue that limits what you can do – God’s grace is sufficient! God’s ability to get things done in His world doesn’t depend on your strength or good works, but on His power. His power is shown to be perfect in your weakness.
For the pastor or parent who continues to pray and teach the gospel faithfully to those entrusted to them, yet who sees little fruit – God’s grace is sufficient! It is not your ability and strength that will save and grow God’s people, it is a miracle of mercy that belongs to God. And your weakness will prove that the glory belongs to Him. His power will be shown to be perfect in your weakness.
For the person who feels broken, overwhelmed and that they don’t have what it takes – God’s grace is sufficient! He is not disappointed, impatient or annoyed with you. Rather, he gives grace to the broken, he gives help to the helpless, he gives rest to the weary. His power is shown to be perfect in your weakness.
So, can I encourage you to come to God in weakness. Boast to others about your weaknesses. Let your limitations demonstrate God’s limitlessness. Allow your failures remind others of His forgiveness. Embrace your helplessness as a pointer to the God of hope and help. Because God has promised that His grace will always be sufficient for us. His power will be shown to be perfect in our weakness.
Dr Joanna Jackson is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and is the Director of Counselling at the All Souls Counselling Service in London.