Updated: Apr 3, 2020
The Empowering Power of God
Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
The Empowering Power of God Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
Paul desired relief. For some time, he had been experiencing a debilitating weakness that he felt was destructive in his life and hindering his ministry. As a result, three times he implores (a word implying more than a simple request but an earnest plea for help) for God to act and bring relief. What this “thorn in the flesh” was, we can only surmise. In his letter to the church at Corinth he mentions a number of struggles he faced. In chapter 7 he mentions several differing circumstances that beset him, external conflicts, internal fears, depression, physical exhaustion. In Galatians 4:13, Paul mentions the struggle he had with physical illness, which some have suggested may have been a chronic disease such as malaria, or epilepsy. Others have suggested that it was due to his extremely poor eyesight (see Galatians 4:15 and 6:11) which may have resulted from the beatings he received or some eye disease. Others suggest it may have been from some demonic spirit oppressing him. Whatever it was, Paul was so deeply affected by it that he begs God for relief. But God’s response was as surprising to Paul as it is to us. Instead of answering his prayer with an affirmative and removing the obstacle, God instead gave him a resounding NO! But God’s response was not because God was uncaring or indifferent. Rather it stemmed from God’s desire to do something even greater than merely relieving Paul of his adversity. God desired to use Paul’s experience to transform him eternally and give him a greater understanding of God and his purpose. By saying no, Paul learned an even greater lesson, that God's power is at work in his weakness empowering him to serve God in a greater way than Paul could even imagine. Often when we are going through times of difficulty, we desire relief. We pray for God to remove the circumstances that are causing us anxiety and discomfort. But in God’s program, suffering is not a destroyer, but a springboard to eternal transformation. At times, God does not alleviate our suffering because he recognizes that in the midst of our struggle, we learn to rely upon him and rest in his eternal plan (Romans 5:3-5). In suffering, not in ease, we genuinely learn the extent of God’s love for us (Romans 5:5). Furthermore, it is through our suffering that we become better equipped to encourage others in their struggles (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). As a result, Paul states that he will glory in his weakness, for it is the daily struggle that we learn the surpassing greatness of God’s sustaining power. The weaker we become, the stronger we become, for we learn no longer to rely upon our own strength and abilities, but upon God’s wisdom and empowerment. Although we do not know what the future holds, and for some of us it may involve some deep waters of affliction, but we do know God will not abandon or forsake us. Instead, as we learn to trust in him more deeply, his infinite power will be present to sustain us through these times. A far greater threat to our spiritual health is the disease of self-sufficiency. Suffering provides the opportunity and cure for this decease which leads us to the real source of our strength: complete and total reliance upon God. If we learn this lesson, then in the end we will confess with Paul, “most gladly I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Instead of just praying for deliverance, pray that God will use the experience to teach you to trust in him.