June 18 I Friday
“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 12:10
“Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost…”
This is part of a poem recited by Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The lines, “deep roots are not reached by the frost” holds much truth. When one’s roots are deep, they will survive the frost. As we grow in the Lord, our roots grow deeper and deeper.
Paul’s roots were deep for him not to be shaken even when God did not answer his prayer for the thorn in his flesh to be removed. As prayer is not a one-way conversation, Paul’s ears were as opened as his mouth, so he listened while he prayed and heard the Lord say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s reply to Paul’s prayer is, “I am not going to take this thorn away. I know what you’re going through is painful and leaves you weak. But Paul, I have a vested interest in your weakness, because in your weakness, you become dependent. It is in your dependence that you become strong. This is not your strength, but Mine. Paul, it is your strength that is your problem, not your weakness.”
When Paul understood why God did not remove the thorn in his flesh, he said, “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 12:10). Paul was able to delight in those things, not because he was a masochist or there was virtue in suffering, but that when he was weak, he was strong. The very thing that he thought was weakening him was the very agent used to strengthen him and drive him back to God. We can never be too weak for God, but we can fool ourselves into thinking we are too strong to need God.
Paul’s perspective changed. Weakness was not his enemy, neither was struggle or even the thorn, because these were the things that drove him back to God. Paul wrote, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30).
Weakness, struggle and difficulty are the workshops of God in our life. Paul concluded his second letter to the Corinthians by saying, “We are glad whenever we are weak…” (2 Corinthians 13:9). There are reasons to delight in our circumstances where we feel weak, because something wonderful happens, we find strength and sufficiency of grace as our roots grow deeply in God.
Prayer: All-Sufficient God, grow my roots to be deeply grounded in You. Thank You for Your strength and grace in my times of weakness. Praise You!