Paul requested from God something “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9).
Paul’s prayer did not bring the apostle release from his affliction, but it did provide him with grace to endure it. Paul appealed for deliverance from his infirmity on the basis that it was a hindrance to his ministry. Christ more than meets his need with an abundant provision of grace. God has never promised to alter circumstances or release men from trouble. To him, bodily infirmities and untoward circumstances are matters of secondary concern. Inward strength to endure is a far higher manifestation of the divine grace than mastery of the outward difficulties of life. Outwardly a man may be torn, worn, wearied, and almost broken, yet inwardly it is his privilege—in Christ—to enjoy perfect peace (Isa. 26:3, 4).
Real strength of character grows out of weakness, which, in distrust of self, is surrendered to the will of God. A man strong in his own strength is self-reliant instead of relying on God, and often does not realize his need of divine grace. The great heroes of the Bible learned the same lesson, men such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel. Only those whose weakness and insecurity have been completely submerged in the blessed will of God know what it is to possess true power.
Therefore, Paul said I will glory in my infirmities or “boast in weaknesses.” It is the mark of triumph to accept one’s limitations without resentment. To rejoice over that which one hates and desires to be rid of is the ultimate of surrender. Christ also shrank from the indignity, shame, and ridicule He was called upon to endure at His trial. Such resignation to the will of God means complete renunciation of self (1 Cor. 2:3–5).
God knows what is best for us in the long run, even if it may conflict with our short-term wants and desires. Paul says we should be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God sees the bigger picture.
In His service,
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