“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12: 9
August 7, 2017, was a big day for me. My first waking thought was, “Thank You for this gift of weakness and having to depend on Your strength and wisdom – which is always more and better than what I come up with on my own.” And then my second thought, “I’m delighting in my weakness! It is as if this concept of learning to delight in weakness that had been rambling in my thinking finally sunk into my being and overflowed.
A few years ago I started mulling over Paul’s declaration of delighting in weakness in 2 Corinthians 12. I’m pretty sure he didn’t jump directly from “please remove this thorn” to delight. Delight is a strong word, meaning to “take pleasure in, to derive joy from”. We’re talking about delighting in weakness, friends. Taking pleasure in and deriving joy in weakness, in limitations, in inadequacies – basically, loving the fact that you don’t have the goods for what is needed.
I think Paul had a choice, just like us, to deny, ignore, resist, war against, despise weakness, or to move towards delight. I’m proposing this is how we all journey from awareness to delight.
Moving at high speed, hardly noticing bumps and bruises from hurdles we run into – we eventually hit a wall we can’t overcome. It might be a physical limitation, emotional exhaustion, mental fatigue, spiritual flatness, relational barriers. We find ourselves kicking against our limits.
We have to admit to ourselves, and sometimes others, “I have limits.” Limits I can’t push through, reason away, or step over.
Ironically, God’s work of deepening and refining our call is often accompanied by a deepening sense of our inadequacies. Having run out of fumes, our emptiness makes room for God’s good work.
Here’s where we stop covering up our shortcomings, feeling sorry for ourselves, and apologizing for our inadequacies. We accept we are purposely designed with limitations so the glory of His presence might be revealed in us.
For Paul, acceptance happened in the moment he heard, “My grace is sufficient for you.” as he understood the connection between power and weakness.
Why weakness? Because God asks us to join Him in ventures much bigger than ourselves. In His kindness, He allows us to bump up against our limits so we know we cannot do this God-sized thing on our own. He meets our weakness with His power. He speaks to our limits with His unmatched, unlimited grace.
For me, acceptance happened as I realized everything, even this, is chosen for me out of the generous and kind heart of God. This is the place I was in when I wrote about struggling with limits two years ago, agreeing with God that the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places as changes in my capacity caused me to lean into Jesus more fully, quickly, and joyfully.
If limitations are a gift knit into my being by my Creator, then I best honor my limits by relying on God’s unlimited understanding and power and strength. He never grows tired of pouring into me. He never grows weary of my need for wisdom.
I don’t have to live in a place of weary-drenched stumbling. God asks me to steward what He’s given me – to consistently, relentlessly lean into Him, to draw my renewal from His well, to honor my limits by leaning into His limitlessness.
Here I quit focusing on my weaknesses and begin to appreciate the gift that causes me to scoot in close to God.
Embracing the wonder of being an ordinary vessel, carrying the treasure of God’s incomparable power within, springs out of gratitude for the gift.
Embracing the joyful exchange of my weakness for His strength also releases me from the weightiness of my responsibility to hang on to Christ. God abiding in me is the more significant part of the equation! Connected to Him, He holds me to Himself, grafts me in, and flows through me. Abiding is far more about identity than effort.
Weaknesses move me from self-sufficiency toward God-dependency. They drag me away from pride toward true humility, being willing to be known as I truly am with both God-given strengths and weaknesses.
What does delighting in weakness feel like?
Relief. Being able to drop pretense and live in the freedom of knowing I am enough because He lives in me and He’s most certainly more than enough.
It also stirs up courage to do things for which you don’t have what you need in your own arsenal. Think of Gideon, the least of the smallest of the weakest; David, the shepherd boy not even in the running; Moses, the stutterer; Joseph, the forgotten prisoner; Sarah, the woman whose biological clock had long ago stopped. Each exchanged their weakness for God’s sufficiency.
And the best, sweet intimacy born out of desperate longings for not just God’s provisions, but for His presence.
No doubt I have more to understand about the sufficiency of God in my weaknesses, but I sure am enjoying the freedom of not having to depend on my own resources and watching how my inadequacies highlight His abundance.
“…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b
Teach me to delight in what opens my heart to more of You.
Teach me to delight in what breaks up fallow ground in order to receive from You.
Teach me to delight in what my mind rejects as disdainful but my soul welcomes as fruitful.
What are you learning about your limits?
Jesus limited Himself to identify with us (Philippians 2). How does that speak to your life?
What if the limits and weaknesses you keep bumping up against are God’s good design for you to know Him more fully? What might that look like? What would it take to fully lean into that?
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Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesSufficient. You can add yours!