His Strength in My Weakness ~ blog
The best-kept secret of recovery is that we make progress when we surrender ourselves to God because we finally realize that apart from Him recovery is impossible. God gives us a perfect example of this truth in the life of Paul.
There were people in the church in Corinth who Paul refers to as false apostles. They promoted themselves when Paul was out of town as “super-apostles.” They were part of the people known as Judaizers and were Christians who would teach that is was necessary for Christians to adopt Jewish customs and practices. They needed to follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved.
Paul hated these people because their thinking was basically eliminating the gospel of being saved by grace through faith and makes salvation a result of works. To the ones in Galatia who were telling the Christians that they had to be circumcised to be saved he wrote;
“As for those agitators,
I wish they would go the whole way
and emasculate themselves!” – Galatians 5:12
In other words, if you are going to make circumcision a requirement for salvation why not go all the way and cut the whole thing off. Yikes …
So, Paul goes on this rant against these people who were also in Corinth. They were claiming to be superior to Paul because they were better at keeping the Law and that the message of Grace was just an easy way out.
As Paul is baring his soul and having to make the case that he was a legitimate apostle he says this interesting thing using sarcasm to make his point and calling himself a fool. You should read his list in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 to see what his life was really like and the suffering he went through to preach the gospel, plant churches, and write Scripture.
Then in the next chapter, he tells us about something we might be familiar with … he said;
“I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
God did this because Paul was allowed to experience something extremely rare. Paul was caught up into the third heaven and allowed to see and hear inexpressible things. Things so awesome but he cannot tell anyone about them. So different from those today who will post the most stupid stuff on social media as if anyone were interested in the food they just ate.
But Paul was taken into heaven where he heard things and saw things that nobody else has ever been able to see … and then he was back on earth and dealing with these legalistic numbskulls.
So, to keep him from boasting God gave him a thorn in his flesh. He does not tell us what the thorn was, but he does say it was a messenger of Satan … and it was tormenting him. The Greek word is the word for buffet or strike with a fist. It is a strong word and carries with it the idea of being mistreated violently. It is the same word used to describe Jesus being beaten during the night before His Crucifixion.
This was no minor irritation is was a painful battle he had to live with. He pleaded with God to take it away because it was pushing him to the edge, and he did not think he could take it anymore. Surely, God did not intend to have him suffer like this with all the other abuse he was going through. Surely, this must not be God’s will for his life considering all he was doing for the cause of Christ.
However, God’s response is shocking, and I believe contains one of the key things we need to know about our own recovery. We read in 2 Corinthians 12:9;
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I do not know about you but I long for the power of God in my life. I know that I cannot live in this fallen world with its endless temptations and overcome it in my own strength. The answer to getting up is giving up. It is allowing God’s strength to come into our weakness so that it is He who is changing us. This miraculous change that we all want to have will not come from our own efforts. It was our own best efforts that got us to where we are now.
So, is it possible that our sexual brokenness is the thorn in our flesh that God has allowed to happen … and into which we gladly gave ourselves? That our years of battling with this and begging God to remove it is the main way God is telling us we need His strength?
Listen if there is one thing I have learned over the past 14 years is that in my brokenness and absolute inability to stop this addictive behavior on my own I must admit my weakness and receive His strength. Paul writes;
“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. When we are weak then we are strong.
More on this tomorrow.