Paul never focused on being strong and good at everything he did. He didn’t only accept challenges to do things he knew he would perform well. He did not avoid things that made him feel afraid or weak. He didn’t depend on his own talents or education to use wise and persuasive words. We discover that Paul did not wait to be welcomed, invited, or respected by others. Paul responded to God’s calling and was obedient to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit in whatever ways God led him. He prayed and asked God to give him the courage, strength, wisdom, and power he needed. It appears that often God led him into situations that were so difficult that he had no choice but to depend on God’s power.
We learn from Paul that walking with Christ is not easy and sometimes we will want to be delivered from our pain and stress. He says that three times he asked the Lord to take away his “thorn in the flesh” that was “tormenting” him. But in the end, he accepted this struggle as being from God for the purpose of allowing Him to depend on God’s strength. The Lord said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). At times, the Lord will not remove a difficulty from our lives (at least for a season) because He is using this to train us up in righteousness and so we will learn to let “Christ’s power rest on us” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
This lesson is counter to our culture. As women in this generation, we are told that we are to be strong! We can do anything we put our mind to. We should not let others see our weaknesses. Thus, we avoid accepting responsibilities in which we may fail or be weak. We try to cover up our emotions of fear, sadness, disappointment and loss. We fear vulnerability. But Paul tells us, “For Christ’s sake to delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when we are weak, then we are strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
As we are vulnerable to express our struggles and weaknesses, this gives others the freedom to share their hurts and difficulties. Then we can minister to one another. It also brings God the glory in all we do for Him. It puts us in a position of dependency on God which is both glorifying to Him, allows us to grow, and ultimately will yield more fruit.