Summary: Often the world considers trouble to be a terrible intruder into life. For many people the problems of life are viewed as nothing more than minus factors. But the Christian perspective of trouble is not pessimistic. Paul experienced a thorn in the flesh,
Title: Strength Out of Weakness
Text: "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 Cor. 12:9).
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-7
Often the world considers trouble to be a terrible intruder into life. For many people the problems of life are viewed as nothing more than minus factors. But the Christian perspective of trouble is not pessimistic. Paul experienced a thorn in the flesh, and this weakness made him strong. He learned how to be strong in the broken places. His weaknesses did not destroy him. With God’s help he gained strength out of his weaknesses. Thus, there seems to be two alternatives: Problems can either keep us down or make us strong. Let us learn from one who was broken and made strong how we may benefit from the weaknesses of life.
I. The weaknesses of life drive us to deepen our faith in God.
A. The apostle Paul had a great faith in the Lord. His faith was not just an assent to religious beliefs. His faith was a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. His favourite expression to describe this relationship was "in Christ." "For 1 know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12).
B. Only a genuine faith in God is adequate during the weaknesses of life. Faith is no casual nod to God. It is allowing God to join our lives. The presence of the Lord helps during times of weaknesses.
II. The weaknesses of life keep us aware of life’s greater concerns.
A. Paul had other concerns on his mind more than the agonies caused by the thorn. Paul had two overwhelming purposes in his life. First, he wanted every person in his world to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. Second, he wanted every believer to be Christ like in thoughts and actions. Paul refused to let the thorn detour him in his purposes.
B. Being consumed with the larger purposes of life overshadows the weaknesses. A person’s lack of mission forces him or her to focus on selfish discomfort. When we are possessed by a great mission, selfish discomforts will become secondary.
III. The weaknesses of life motivate us to become a part of a support group.
A. Paul had a support group during times of weaknesses with churches. Soon after his dramatic conversion, believers in Damascus welcomed him. Ananias called him "Brother Saul" (Acts 9:17). Barnabas also "took him" (v. 27). Churches across Asia Minor, in Macedonia, Achaia, and Italy helped him.
B. To help us with our weaknesses God provides a supportive group of people known as the church. God’s people are bound together in an intimate fellowship. They receive one another, love one another, and minister to one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, and make many other supportive gestures.
IV. The weaknesses of life afford opportunities to be wounded healers.
A. Paul was able to help others because of his thorn in the flesh. He was able to empathize with a greater intensity. He knew what it was to suffer. As he found strength from God during his weaknesses, he told others who were hurting where to find help.
B. People who have been hurt and have been helped prove to be good helpers. Henri Nouwen, in his book The Wounded Healer, advocates that only the wounded can be authentic healers.
V. The weaknesses of life force us to look for a greater hope.
A. Paul looked beyond the weaknesses to a greater time. The thorn did not cause Paul to have a pessimistic view of life. Instead, in the midst of his weaknesses he loved life. Part of his great love for life was his optimistic view of the future. He believed that God would ultimately remove the thorn. "This mortal nature must put on immortality" (1 Cor. 15:53 Rsv).
B. There is a greater hope for believers. The weaknesses of life may last for a lifetime, but they will not last throughout eternity. The believer will receive a body that is immune from physical and emotional disorders.
The weaknesses of life do not have to make us weaker. By God’s help we may gain strength during the times of weaknesses.