In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about his health situation. You know, when he has a “thorn in his flesh”, and he asks God to take it away. But God refuses Paul’s request. Instead, God tells him, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (verse 9)
We talk about this a lot in Christianity. That in our weakness, God is strong. I was on a retreat around this time last year, finishing my degree at Regent University and we were having a group discussion. One of the girls in my class asked, “Can God work through a weakness without it becoming a strength?”
I thought it was an interesting question. I have had many areas of weakness that God has transformed into a strength. God does that kind of thing all the time, I think – If we let him.
But what about working in a weakness, where the weakness never becomes a strength?
I told her about my autistic daughter, Elle. God has used her to speak to many people, not least of all myself and my wife, yet her disability still exists. In the difficult struggles we’ve had with her, God’s grace has been all the more abundant. Grace to handle the trials, and to press forward in her treatment and development.
God hasn’t ‘fixed’ the situation, but he’s been present to meet the needs which have arisen out of it.
We know, from reading the Bible, that God is making all things new. He’s busy setting things right. That started with Jesus’ sacrifice and it will be set to completion when he returns. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, a perfect reality.
But here and now, there is still brokeness. The Fall still echos in us and in all of creation. We have been called to work among the imperfection. And while we are partners with setting things right, sometimes what we have to work with the brokeness before it has been fixed.
I will never be perfect on this earth, yet God chooses to work in me and through me. I am weakness personified, yet God has no plan B. Though I am still flawed and imperfect and fallen, God’s glory comes through when I let it.
Instead of throwing away this world and all that is in it, it seems like he’s taking all the loose threads and weaving a beautiful tapestry. He shows his greatnessbecause he uses the broken, the imperfect, the flawed. There is no such thing as a person who isn’t good enough for God. Because the weaker we are, the more we recognize we need him, and the more he shows up.
It’s only when we get a fat head, thinking God owes us a debt of gratitude that we end up full of ourselves and bereft of his presence.
Let us all, as Paul says boast only in what the Lord has done.