Yan Hadley’s provocative title ‘Weakness is our greatest strength’ cuts across our preconceived ideas of success. God’s word frequently speaks of paradoxes, however: how we must lose our lives in order to gain them, how the first will be last and so on. In 2 Cor 12:7-10, Paul identifies another of these paradoxes, how weakness can be our greatest strength. We can only really understand this as we appreciate God’s thoughts and ways are so vastly different to ours (Is 55:8), something best revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, who was born in a lowly stable in a small town in a relatively insignificant country and who ultimately achieved our salvation through the unlikely means of dying on a cross.
So often, we view ourselves as insignificant or unworthy, but God calls those who may well seem to have little going for them (1 Cor 1:26) in order that He may get the glory! We should not despise the little things; Terry Waite (envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury who was kidnapped and imprisoned for five years in the Middle East) spoke of how a postcard sent from a lady in Bedford encouraged his faith while he was in captivity. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)
What Do We Mean By Weakness?
Here, we are not talking of sin or lack of self-control or weaknesses which are harmful, but rather of an awareness of human frailty which leaves us dependent on God. Instead of seeing our weaknesses as obstacles or barriers, we see that God is able to turn these into opportunities (as Jesus did with the meagre lunch offering of that boy!) Many examples of human frailty abound (e.g. Kathryn Kuhlman, used greatly by God in miraculous healings, declared God could use her because she had nothing; Gladys Aylward was rejected by every missionary society yet still went to China and saw God move in power there; Smith Wigglesworth was an uneducated plumber used powerfully by God, as was William Seymour, a key figure in the Azusa Street revival which saw the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement in the 20th century.) The truth is that when we are weak, we can be strong in God’s strength.
Why Is Weakness Our Greatest Strength?
Weakness is our greatest strength if it allows us to cultivate our dependence on God. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). Paul was overwhelmed by weakness at times, but this developed his trust in God (see 2 Cor 1:8-9). As a result of weakness, our prayer lives are developed and we learn to live by God’s wrod (Matt 4:4). Weakness develops our faith muscles as we become desperate enough to seek God (like Bartimeaus, Hannah and the woman who suffered from constant bleeding for years.) Ultimately, weakness is our greatrest strength because then God gets all the glory (1 Cor 1:29)
Weakness is our greatest strength also because it keps us from exalting ourselves; it is God’s practical aid to humility! (2 Cor 12:7) God used Moses with just a stick and a stammer; David defeated Goliath with a sling and some pebbles. Gideon’s army was whittled down from 32,000 to 300… all so that God could ensure that victory was attributed to no one else but Himself!