THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2011
STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS
Today’s reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
said, “I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
(2 Cor 11:30). Paul we know to be a strong, powerful, effective
proclaimer of the gospel. He was a great apostle, even having
“visions and revelations” (2 Cor 12:1b), even
being “caught up into Paradise and (hearing) ineffable
things” (2 Cor 12:4a). Yet the badge of honor he wore
was the suffering he underwent as he served Christ. He reveled
not in his strength but in his weakness. His paradigm was
totally opposite from and contradictory to that of the world.
He indeed was a great apostle, but he, like his Lord, knew
that the call was to be a suffering servant.
from following the very footsteps of the Master, which leads
to the cross, what is it about weakness that is so important
in Christian life and service?
Paul understood that pride was one of the strongest enemies
of the Christian. As servants, God intends His glory to shine
through our life and work (Is 49:3). And why not? If we do
the very divine work of God, then inherent in that work is
glory. It is God’s work after all.
many who mightily serve God may begin to think that it is
they who are so great, that it is because of their abilities
and resources that God’s work is accomplished. Then
pride sets in. It might be like the colt on which Jesus rode
that thought the hosannahs were directed at him.
so, with the glory, God gives affliction. This keeps us down-to-earth
rather than our heads soaring above the clouds and swelling.
It makes us realize how weak and vulnerable we are even as
we are able to accomplish great things. It helps us to get
back to full dependence on God and not on ourselves.
Paul, aside from all the hardships, it was the thorn in the
flesh. What was God’s purpose? Paul says it twice in
the same breath. “Therefore, that I might not become
too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel
of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.”
(2 Cor 12:7b). We of course are elated when we bear fruit
for God, and rightly so. But Paul was concerned about becoming
too elated, to already fall into sinful pride.
Paul knew he was intensely committed to God, that he had dedicated
his life to Christ, that he would even die for the cause.
Given everything that he was already suffering, he felt he
could do without the thorn in the flesh, which to him was
intolerable. And so he prayed, nay, begged, insistently, “Three
times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me”
(2 Cor 12:8).
knew better. Or God wanted to deepen even more Paul’s
already deep spirituality. So God gave the principle: “My
grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in
weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9a). God wanted Paul not just to
experience some power, but to experience His power being made
perfect in him. That could only happen through intense and
seemingly intolerable affliction, where, at the end of our
human strength, we rely totally on God’s grace, and
become an emptied and humbled instrument that can now accept
the fullness of His strength.
understood the point. He could see the connection between
human weakness and God’s strength. The less we look
to our human strength, the more God can fill us with His own
strength. The more we are humanly weak, the more God can be
strong in us. And so Paul fully embraced and rejoiced in what
God had designed for him: “I will rather boast most
gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ
may dwell with me.” (2 Cor 12:9b).
How about us? God allows us to suffer, but do we realize the
redemptive nature of suffering? Do we shun suffering, to the
point of veering away when we see the cross on the road? When
we are suffering deeply, do we incessantly pray for the cup
to be lifted, rather than at some point accepting and even
rejoicing? Do we get angry at God, rather than thanking Him
for His great purpose in our life in allowing us to suffer?
Do we give up on the mission when the going gets really touch,
rather than enduring and persevering till the end?
the true servant of God, affliction is a given. To a great
apostle of God, severe and incessant affliction is to be expected.
If an angel of Satan beats us as we serve God, we must rejoice,
for we are deemed worthy to be afflicted by the enemy.
must know God’s principle. It is simply this: “when
I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10b). If that
is so, our posture is already defined. “Therefore, I
am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions,
and constraints, for the sake of Christ” (2 Cor 12:10a).
we are finally able to grow in that posture, then we may be
able to claim, “My God is now my strength!”
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