Divine Power and Weakness

  • Nov. 25, 2015
  • #8758

Do you have a thorn in your side; are you going through a painful struggle? The Bible assures us that God’s grace is revealed in our weakness.

Divine Power and Weakness

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a word about weakness and God's power.

I identify so much with the apostle Paul whose tormenting thorn in the flesh never left him. Paul states in Second Corinthians chapter 12, verse 7 that God gave him the thorn, but he also speaks of it as a messenger of Satan. Perhaps Paul felt that his difficult thorn prevented him from advancing the gospel. I don’t know, but we do know that God sent it. Like a theologian of old once said, “God sends trials, but it is often Satan who brings them” (I tell you, just a few passages in the Old Testament will tell you that). Now, I don’t know what Paul’s troubling thorn was, but often I am just as tormented by my quadriplegia and occasional chronic pain. And that word tormenting, well, you know what that feels like, right! You lay awake at night, fighting off anxiety because the pain is getting worse. To me, that’s the tormenting part.

But you know what? I am strangely comforted by the fact that Paul’s thorn never went away; it remained; and it may have even gotten worse as he grew older. In the same way, my disability has never gone away and, in some ways, it is definitely getting worse as I get older. But here’s what I have learned from Paul: for all the many times he was distressed by his weakness (and although he never speaks of his thorn again, you can be sure it was biting and nagging him throughout his entire ministry). Every time he felt the crunch of his disability, whatever that was, at that same moment, that same instant, he had the supporting grace of Christ. He kept saying it over and over, “God’s grace is sufficient for me.”

And friend, here’s the lesson. And listen up because it’s pretty powerful: the grace of God is more than adequate precisely because divine power finds its full scope and strength only in human weakness. In other words, it is not simply that weakness is a prerequisite for God's power in your life; no, rather both weakness and God’s power exist simultaneously in the life of the weak believer who is tormented by a thorn. Grace is always coming at us, looking to enter our lives at our points of brokenness. In fact, the cross of Christ where Jesus was crucified in all His weakness was His access to grace. Grace is never bestowed upon the strong who boast of their strength; or the gifted who pride themselves in their gifts. Grace always, always meets us at our point of brokenness. So in a way, it was a good thing that Paul’s thorn never left him, for it became his built-in assurance that he would always be needy before the Lord, be broken without his help, be incomplete without His grace. That’s what Paul boasted in – he happily said that he was glad; he just didn’t boast; he was glad about his weakness for he knew then that God's power rested on him.

So I thank the lord for my quadriplegia and it is a good thing that it has never left me. It is a good thing that it has remained, for it builds into my life an instant and daily need of God. I just cannot do life without Him. I cannot make it on my own. I need Jesus, and my wheelchair daily reminds me of that need. And I think this is a wonderful thought with tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day. Oh friend, no matter what your thorn and no matter how painful it is, God's grace is sufficient and we can be thankful. Speaking of which, please visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and ask for your free copy of a beautiful Thanksgiving poem by Martha Snell Nichelson. It’s all for you right here at joniandfriends.org.

Photo: hopechest.org

© Joni and Friends


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