Reading for Wednesday, June 12, 2019
2 Corinthians 12. 1-10.
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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. NIV
What are the strengths of your life? What provides you with a sense of self-worth and makes you feel your life is meaningful? For many it is the accomplishments we have made, or a standard of life we have earned and while there are other people who may possess more or accomplished greater things than we have we can still look at ourselves and feel we have done well for ourselves and our families.
This last week I watched a film I had seen previously and enjoyed. The film was Central Intelligence made in 2016 and starred Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Hart was an acclaimed high school student in both academics and sports while Johnson a fat boy bullied by others. Hart’s character graduated from High school, went to college and married his high school sweet heart. That would have been enough for many people, however he was stuck in a dead end job as an accountant feeling he had not accomplished what he and others expected of him.
Now Johnson’s character, Robbie Weirdicht, had dropped out of school due to embarrassment and bullying yet somehow put his painful past behind him to become strong physical specimen and a noted field agent with the CIA. Hart’s character, Calvin, had endeared himself to Weirdicht by protecting him during a horrific prank. They were reunited 20 years later when the spy pulls disillusioned Calvin into an international plot. My purpose is not to tell you this humorous story but to set the backdrop for the important message it conveyed. Both characters came to grips with their identity and discovered what was truly of value, their friendship and other relationships.
In our passage the apostle Paul attempted with humility to provide reasons he should be respected and listened to as an apostle and teacher of Christ’s way. He was completing for the hearts of the Corinthians who were being swayed by charismatic yet false teachers. Though the apostle lists the credential of receiving “great revelations” he holds forth a personal struggle he has faced as a source of strength in his life. His strength came from acknowledging his need and corresponding dependence upon Christ to use his weakness to achieve a deeper understanding and usefulness to Christ.
We all desire an easy path to what we might feel is a greater and more fulfilling life, but we can often elevate false standards and strive toward meaningless ends. It is not always the accomplished end that matters as the road to get there. And what we aspire towards will ultimately determine the worth of our life. In the famous Country Song, Stronger, Kelly Clarkson proclaims “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” Johnson’s character, Weirdict, discovered this truth and capitalized on his pain to make him into something better. So also, through Christ our struggles and hurts can be redirected to transform our life and empowered to fulfill the potential God has planned for us.
While many people can inspire us to overcome our limitations from their own experience, for those of us in Christ the struggles in life can compel us toward a deeper trust and walk of faith in Christ. After all, it is God who make us, Christ who saved us and faith that will redeem us from useless pursuits to glorious ends. He knows our weaknesses and capabilities as he does the plans he has for us, and he possesses all the power we need to discover the true value which he places upon our lives.
I am not as confident as the apostle Paul to say “Bring it on!” I do not look forward nor invite hardship, however, I know that through Christ my hardships will not destroy me for I am confident in the power of Christ who lives within me and walks with me. I pray you find that confidence which comes only through trust in Jesus.