I recently had an embarrassing incident. I was breaking down boxes at the Food Closet where my wife and I help the homeless and needy in our area. As I flattened and stacked the boxes for recycling, I thought that I was being really smart by standing on the pile to flatten them, saving me the extra step of piling them up. Suddenly, my feet slipped out from under me and I crashed down on the pavement. Embarrassed, the first thing I did was to look around. Had anyone seen my mistake? Yep! Two ladies waiting to get their food called out, asking if I was OK. We all want to look like we have everything under control, don't we? Mistakes are often seen as weakness. The Bible has something very counterintuitive to say about this, so let's listen to it together:
In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
Just prior to this passage, Paul had shared how God had given him visions and revelations, then contrasted those experiences with how God had also given him a messenger of Satan, to prevent him from being puffed up by pride. We don't know what that messenger was. Some scholars say it was a demon, others say it was bad eyesight. Whatever it was, Paul asked God three times to remove it. God answered his prayer, but it wasn't the answer he wanted. Instead, God replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” What do you think about that? If it were me, I think I’d call some Christian friends so we could pray a fourth time! But that's not what Paul did. He decided that he would boast about his own weaknesses, so that His weaknesses would be contrasted with God's greatness. This may seem foreign to us, because we want others to see us as capable and in control. But God often uses our weaknesses, rather than our strengths, just like He used flawed people like Jacob, Moses, Noah, and Peter—people just like you and me.
Do you have any flaws? If you do, God can use you to tell the broken people in this broken world that Jesus Christ is mighty to save...and that's very Good News!