2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV): “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
So in my last post on this verse, I talked about Paul really wanting to be rid of his weakness and pleading unsuccessfully with God to remove it from his life. Just like the rest of us, Paul probably thought he knew a little better than God with this one. He probably figured that, you know, come on, SURELY, God wouldn’t want him to have to continue to struggle with this problem. Surely, HE would be better able to carry out God’s will without having to deal with this limitation. Surely, if Paul could just have this weakness cast aside and himself become more powerful, HE would be able to do much greater things for God.
Then God gave him a little revelation. Something akin to “Father knows best.”
God made it clear to Paul that his weakness had a greater purpose…
So once Paul got a little glimpse of the big picture, he began to understand that, in his weakness, he tended to rely on Jesus as his strength, as the One who would carry him through even the most difficult of circumstances, the most painful of “thorns”. And when he relied on Jesus, his old, sinful self simply died a little more. And, as he died more to self and trusted more in Jesus, Jesus lived more fully in and through him.
This, then, is where weaknesses will naturally take us as well if we surrender them to God just like Paul finally did. In fact, this IS God’s plan for the restoration of humankind to his image. More specifically, it is:
That God the Son, the perfect image-bearer of God the Father, would live through us and thus conform us more and more to his perfect image. This ultimately becomes God living and working through his people to bring glory to himself, and gives our lives the sense of fulfillment of purpose that we were always supposed to have.
I think Augustine perhaps captured it best about humanity’s constant search for purpose when he said to God “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
So, in learning this absolute truth from God, Paul gained confidence, his faith grew stronger, he was more likely to continue to rely on God, and his life became less about his old self and more about Jesus. This journey of spiritual maturity would eventually lead Paul to proclaim to the Philippian church that, for him, “to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21)(ESV). In other words, his life had become Jesus’ life.
And that, my friends, is the whole point.