“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
When I was in middle school, a bunch of friends and I decided we would get physically fit. We got together a sweet set of weights from various places and from one another’s homes and we brought them all over to my garage where we started lifting. There were really no health reasons behind why we wanted to do this, we just wanted to have bigger muscles to “impress the ladies.” When we would lift we would try to see who could lift the most weight, for the greatest amount of repetitions, for the greatest effect. We would really push ourselves to the limit. We desired quick results. Sometimes we would attempt to lift more than we were able. We would get stuck under the unbearable weight and yell, “Spotter, please!” and our spotter, the person standing behind the bench press, would grab the barbell and lift the weight to the bar holder on the bench, rescuing us. Without that spotter, there would be many times that I would have been crushed by the weight that I was unable to bear.
Our walk with Jesus in this world is like this. We need a spotter to help us carry the burdens that would otherwise crush us. We cannot function in our own strength. To the extent that we do function within our own ability, we will accomplish only that which we are able to do, which is not much, and is still by the sheer grace and gift of God.
The Apostle Paul had a weakness that he said was the only thing that gave him bragging rights. Paul had to carry a weight around that he was unable to bear. This weight was a weakness of some sort, a handicap, a sin, or an infirmity of some kind. No one knows what exactly it was that Paul was struggling with “bench pressing,” but whatever it was, he was stuck with it. Paul stated that God’s strength was made perfect in his weaknesses. God was his spotter. Paul was unable to bear this weight on his own, but with God, his weakness was turned to strength, God’s strength.
Paul spoke about his weakness, and God being his spotter, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Our desire, much like Paul’s, is to impress ourselves, and others, with our own strength and self sufficiency. Most of us desire and attempt self reliance. Many times we are the ones who are attempting to be strong in our own rights, by our own efforts, and for our own glory. We think if somehow we have it all together and are strong we will be somehow superior. The truth is we have nothing on our own, and the only thing we can brag about is our weaknesses, just as Paul boasted in his weaknesses. It is when we find ourselves outside of our own abilities that our spotter can lift our loads on our behalf. If it is God who is our spotter, then there is nothing we cannot lift. Our weaknesses are the places where God’s strengths can be realized. It is when we are at our wits end that we can realize that we are not God and that we need God. We do not lift the burdens of this life on our own, nor can we, or should we. God’s strength is indeed made perfect in our weaknesses.
“When I am weak, then I am strong!” Spotter, please!
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 2 Co 12:7-10