My knees were knocking as I clumsily climbed the stairs leading to the church pulpit. My palms were also a sweaty mess, not to mention the gazillion butterflies that were having a field day in my stomach. Speaking in public was not my cup of tea as I suffered acute public speaking anxiety.
But how did I get myself here in the first place? My husband had been the one invited to give a sermon but had been taken ill a week before the Sunday service. He had requested me to step in his shoes, but I had vehemently declined.
However, as time peeled away, I sensed God nudging me to take a leap of faith and allow Him to use me. I had laid out my weaknesses to God, reminding Him of my public speaking anxiety and inexperience. “My grace shall be sufficient for you for in your weakness my strength is made perfect.”
That scripture tugged at my spirit and wouldn't let go. I knew God was speaking to me, so I repented and resolved to obey. As I walked to the pulpit that nippy Sunday morning, my anxiety still clung to me like a cloak.
But I had a deep-seated assurance that God would be glorified in my weakness. Needless to say, it was a glorious service, and God kept His promise to me.
Paul Relished His Weaknesses
In 2 Corinthians 11, we find Paul admonishing the Corinthian Church for falling prey to false apostles who threatened to detract them from their commitment to Christ. Paul was appalled at their gullibility.
These false apostles were acting superior and lording over the Corinthians, who didn't seem to mind. Paul wondered whether it was wrong for him to have humbled himself while among them, not seeking any wages from them (2 Corinthians 11:7).
Paul then reminds them that if anyone had a right to boast, it would be him. He reminds them of the grueling circumstances he has braved in the course of ministry. He has been in prison, faced death, stoned, whipped, and shipwrecked.
His body has been weary, toiling for them. He has gone without sleep, food, shelter, and clothes (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Paul then states that if he is to boast at all, he would boast about his weaknesses.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul takes his discourse a notch higher. He informs the Corinthians that he has had visions and revelations from the Lord. He even knows a man who was caught up in the third heaven.
He is telling them this to let them know that he is by no means inferior to the false apostles who are elevating themselves in their sight. The only reason Paul has not talked about these visions and revelations before is to keep them from thinking highly of him.
What's more, to ensure that Paul remains level-headed, God gives him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him and keep him from becoming conceited. Paul prays three times, asking God to yank out the irksome thorn.
But God promises that His grace would be sufficient because His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 9). Having learned His lesson, Paul makes peace with his thorn.
He boldly declares that for Christ's sake, he takes delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties.
How Can Believers Delight in Weaknesses?
If you are like me, I detest feeling weak and vulnerable. I like to feel competent and in perfect control of my life. I don't like when my family is faced with illness, lack, shame, or any form of uncertainty.
I tend to sense God’s blessing over my life when all my ducks are in a neat row. But when I come face-to-face with my imperfections and life’s hardships, those are not good times for me.
I feel like God is nowhere in sight in my life. Yet like Paul, God wants me to rejoice more gladly in my weaknesses than in my strengths.
God has a high affinity for weaknesses because that's when His strength is made perfect. Here are three ways in which believers can delight in weaknesses.
1. Allow God to Display His Power Through You
God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).
Oftentimes our abilities and competencies stand in the way of God. In the Bible, when God wanted to remind people of His power, He chose the weakest among them and empowered them to execute great feats.
He used Gideon to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites, yet he was the least in his father's house and his clan the weakest in Manasseh (Judges 6:15).
With his weakness, he was the perfect candidate for God to display His power since nobody would attribute the victory to Gideon.
God also chose Moses, who was slow in speech and tongue, to face off with Pharaoh and deliver the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 4:10). When God needed a King to replace Saul, He did not choose the stately sons of Jesse but opted for the young and forgotten David (1 Samuel 16).
God delights in using the weak so that His power may be fully displayed. God doesn't want any of us to boast of our abilities.
So, the next time you come face-to-face with your frailty, incompetence, and weaknesses, remember it's the perfect opportunity for God to show off His power through you.
2. Surrender Your Life to Christ
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Christ, therefore, wants us to surrender wholeheartedly and allow Him to live in us. When we allow Christ full reign, we will not fret about feeling weak and incompetent.
After all, we do not belong to ourselves, our weaknesses belong to Christ, and He will use them for His glory.
Like Paul, we will relinquish our gains and consider them losses for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7). We will glory in our weaknesses so that Christ's power may be displayed in us.
3. Emulate Jesus
“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20).
Though he was the Son of God, Jesus was well-acquainted with weaknesses and hardships. Before His ascension, He assured His disciples that just as He was persecuted, they, too, would face persecution.
They would face trouble while in the world, but they were to be of good cheer seeing that He had overcome the world (John 16:33). They would find themselves in need of His power many times over.
Though being in the form of God, Christ did not consider it robbery to be equal to God. He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men.
He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:6-8). He willingly embraced weakness so that God's power could be displayed in Him.
If Jesus, the Son of God, could embrace weaknesses and hardships, we can too. He is our master, and we are not greater than Him.
Jesus assured His disciples that they would face trouble, but He asked them to be of good cheer because He had overcome the world (John 6:33). We, too, can delight in our weaknesses because when we are weak, He is strong.
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Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected]