Christ Our Strength
Chaplain Cecelia A. Walker
Princeton Baptist Medical Center
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
The scripture above is quoted often and much loved. I encourage you to read (or re-read) the entire book of 2 Corinthians. In this passage Paul reluctantly defended his ministry from a group of people called “super apostles” who shamelessly boasted about their ethnic and religious pedigrees. Throughout the book Paul describes challenges and limitations he and his colleagues faced as they attempted to live authentic committed Christian lives… to be ministers of reconciliation. As I see it, the thesis statement of 2 Corinthians is that God’s power is manifested in our weakness. As one writer has said: “Spiritual math is never, my weakness + His strength = my power rather it is my weakness + His strength = His power”. Paul had learned from his experiences not to rely on himself but on God.
He had come to know God as the God of all comfort; he experienced God leading him in triumphal procession in spite of trials, tragedies and tribulations; he gained confidence, hope and liberty because Christ has removed the veil. Paul’s weakness produced an aroma of Christ’s saving power everywhere he went.
One of the most repulsive characteristics of human nature is our tendency to boast. In the culture that we live in which is driven more and more by social media, it seems that some people feel the need to share almost every detail of their lives with literally the “whole world”. There is a great need for many to press the pause button of life and assess what we advertise, applaud and affirm.
Paul makes the supreme boast: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME”. The words ”rest upon me” refer back to the dispensation when God pitched His tent with His people (Exodus 40:34). Additionally the phrase is the same language John used when he said: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Paul is saying Christ pitches His tent with His people… with us in our weakness!
Life is rarely as it appears at first glance. We might be led to believe that God only pitches His tent with the famous and powerful; those who speak eloquently and enjoy the front seats and center stages of life – but that is not so. Christ most certainly pitches His tent among the weak, disenfranchised, unknown, anonymous, unassuming quiet servants who are keeping things going in the background.
The conclusion of the matter is this: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.” There is no reward or honor in suffering for the sake of suffering. However, when we suffer for Christ’s sake it makes an eternal difference in our lives and the lives of others. When we embrace the paradox of power - “For when I am weak, then I am strong” we stop pretending to have it all together, of being strong and in control. True power comes in our surrender to the Lord. We should come to Him afresh, boasting in our weakness, confident that He will pitch His tent in us for in this dispensation our bodies are the temple of the Lord.
Prayer: Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my Lord! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. Amen.