Marathon runners are some of the most enduring people I have ever seen. They continue to keep up a fast pace over the span of 26.2 miles without stopping to walk, take breaks, or otherwise take a moment to regain their strength. One of the more spectacular things to watch are the marathon runners who have emptied the proverbial tank of everything they have and their muscles are simply giving out. There are numerous videos on youtube about these runners who reached the point of muscle failure. It isn’t that they forgot how to run or that they no longer understood the mechanics. You see evidence that from the beginning they understood. But at some point, they came face to face with their weakness and own limitations as a human and felt drained.
For those of us following Christ, coming face to face with our human weakness. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, we bear limits to the amount we can bear on our own. When we find the times of our weakness, there is an opportunity to rely on God and to see what God can do in the midst of what we cannot.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
While there is debate as to what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was referring to, it is undeniable that he indeed had a pronounced weakness. Paul is not alone in this either. Every person has their limits as to how far they are able to achieve. Our muscles get fatigued, our emotions run dry, and our spirit grows weak from time to time. We all have times where we feel empty. Yet, even beyond that, we all endure times when we feel weak and unable to accomplish the task ahead of us. These weaknesses are reminders that we should, first and foremost, run to God.
On Our Own Strength
We all want to feel like we are strong enough largely because it is so intertwined with our desire to feel good enough. If people see how strong we can be and how much we can withstand, they will respect and honor us. So we train our strength and put everything into our image of being able to withstand the storms of life and the challenges ahead. In doing so, we attempt to stand on our own two feet. In our pretending to do everything, however, we make ourselves out to be gods in our own mind. If only God can do all things, and we believe we are strong enough to do all things, we write God out of our story.The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was gladly given to bring us home to Him Click To Tweet
For all our trying and all our effort, we will all arrive at a point of weakness. Pride will tell us that we can accomplish anything apart from God. In fact, it was pride that mislead Lucifer to the same thing and he was removed from his heavenly position and eternally condemned. We must never be puffed up with pride that we think we do not need God to provide for our strength. When Christ is the source of our strength, we can withstand situations that we did not think we could withstand and endure things we did not know we could endure. The strength of God is ceaseless and offered to us as we reside fully in Him.
God Shines Through Our Weakness
But strength isn’t weakness. There will come times when we simply cannot do what we are trying to do. We have limits and weaknesses. Whatever our weakness may be, we cannot underestimate an eternal and all powerful God. For Paul, he was able to delight in his weakness because it drove him closer to Christ. To accomplish the tasks set before him, the only option was to trust fully in God. Only God would be able to work the miracle in the lives of the people that God had called him to. Only God can achieve a God-sized mission. Though we may be weak, we are honored to be a part of the story that God is weaving throughout human history.The beginning of our salvation is when we surrender ourselves to Christ for our eternal security. Click To Tweet
The beginning of our salvation is when we surrender ourselves to Christ for our eternal security. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot pull ourselves out of our own sin and must rely on the Savior for our security. This moment of weakness is where our live begins; when we allow God to have His way with our weakness and move through us. In bowing before God, He sets us on our feet and stands us up on the firm foundation of His presence. Storms may come but God will not be moved. As we stand in Him, though we may be weak, God will always remain strong.
Talk It Out
- Why did Paul boast in the weakness that he had been given?
- How do we normally respond when we come face to face with a weakness? How does this compare with how Paul viewed his weakness?
- What is your biggest weakness? How might God use this weakness to display the fullness of His glory in the world?
- Often times, we think we have to be good enough to serve God. What does the way God handles our weakness tell us about being “good enough” to serve God?
- What is a time that you ran into your limits, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Where did you run to when you found this limit?
- How does first running to Jesus in our weakness help us in our time of need? Why should we run to Jesus first instead of to other things?
For more in this series, check out Drained