Finding Strength Amidst Our Thorns

8th February, 2013 - Posted by Marie Fang - No Comments

Sometimes in our culture it’s easy to talk about our strengths but shy away from any talk of our weaknesses or struggles, even in Christian contexts. We’re supposed to look like we have it all together, and even though everyone knows we all have difficulties, somehow we convince ourselves that if we hide them then it will seem like we have fewer problems than other people.

But that’s just it, we all have problems. What does this mean though? Sometimes when we realize the extent of our own issues we can sulk in our own self-pity or self-hatred. Some even find themselves in a stupor of darkness that makes life seem not worth living anymore.

What does God have to say about this? I encountered this passage recently and I think it offers insights about God’s perspective of our weaknesses that may differ from what you might expect. Here Paul shares about himself in a letter to the Corinthians:

“…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.”

-2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

Those final words ring so powerfully – “When I am weak, then I am strong.” The concept of depending on someone else for strength is so countercultural, yet it’s inherent in our imperfections that we need help in order to survive. God redeems us by being our strength and support amidst our brokenness, such that our weaknesses only help point us to our need for Him. Some food for thought for the next time you find yourself feeling badly for being less than perfect.

-Marie Fang, Psy.D.

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