“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV)
In the world today celebrities, politicians leaders, executives and pretty much most people try to avoid admitting to any weakness, mistakes or failures. If caught, they will most likely deny, lie, or blame someone else. We read about this almost daily in the media. Such denial is also common in the church. A lot of preachers, teachers, ministers and common folk fear admitting to negative feelings, doubt, struggles, emotional troubles, sickness, fear, anxiety or discouragement. Any such negative confession is a thought to be sin. Those who admit to any such weakness demonstrate a serious lack of faith in the Lord, another sin.
The Apostle Paul, from what we read in 2 Corinthians, would not agree. Throughout this letter, he freely admitted to anxiety, discouragement, pain, troubles, and weakness. He has told us that he is but a jar of clay, a cracked pot, a weak, flawed and unattractive vessel for the glory of the Lord. He has boasted in those things which put him in a bad light, that made him look weak: illness, cold, hunger, thirst, persecution, imprisonment and beatings. In today’s church, a man with such a resume would never be selected as a pastor or church leader. We want strong, powerful, dynamic and visionary leaders who have no weaknesses.
In this way the church mirrors our culture. Few people in our contemporary culture would ever boast about weakness and suffering except to proclaim themselves as heroes for having the grit and determination to face such pain, endure and overcome. And these days the media and public opinion proclaim everyone to be a hero.
But Paul tells us there is strength in weakness! The Lord cannot use strong people because they want to do His job. They think they can do it better than He and so they have little need to rely on Him. Yet the Lord lifts up weak and sinners to accomplish His will and bring Him glory. Only the weak cannot rely on their own strength, effort or determination to overcome and persevere, because they have none. Only the weak know their need for Jesus!