“Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
This is a very crisp idea, Paul flips things upside down and then gives it a shake. His attention is directed at bringing clarity and understanding about these issues of pain, weakness and conflict. There is an understanding that Paul passes on that has personally worked its way through his own heart. Truth that has taken that pathway is very precious.
Paul shares a conversation he had with the Lord Himself. It really does seem that this subject was a continual topic between them. He mentions it to Jesus three different times. This tells me, that suffering and pain are issues where it’s hard to get resolution. When we hurt, we want Jesus to intervene, asap. It is a real riddle to us, “Why am not healed?”
It seems to me that Paul comes to the point over and over and its not resolved to his satisfaction. When the Lord does bring Paul to an understanding; it is basically the whole dynamic of the Christian experience. And it is this, when a believer is sick, or weak–it’s then the strength and power of Jesus can be accessed. Simply put–No pain, no power.
Paul ‘begged’ for resolution, and the ultimate response was the Lord was showing him the secret for his strength was in that presence of pain. It gave him a power and force and might that he would not have otherwise. Now Paul had a very intense ministry. He would deal with issues and conflicts that would shrivel up most believers. The list is long (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28) and painful. But the gist of it was Paul being abused and attacked by other people, over and over.
Paul had to have an extra boost to fulfill his ministry. He needed affliction and weakness to connect him to a huge ‘underground river’ of grace and love that flowed under his feet unseen and unknown. The difficulties that Paul dealt with were actually what propelled him in his ministry.
There can be no power without pain; no discipleship without some kind of disability. Paul tells the truth, “I boast in my weaknesses. Just tap me into His power”. Trials are the power outlet for the believer. When he says things like that, it is good to pay attention. The earnestness of Paul’s language in these verses gives us a sense of what is real, and how we should trust these ideas, as we are propelled into our ministry to the Lord.