“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We tend to think of Paul as some kind of superhero. After his miraculous conversion, he was completely sold out for Jesus, enduring such things as beatings, shipwrecks, trials, and even stonings. Not a one of his hardships made him reconsider his devotion to Christ. Instead, he pressed on all the more. One time, he was dragged outside a city, stoned, and left for dead. But instead of dying, he got right back up and walked back into the city. Nothing could keep him down.
But for all his strengths, Paul still viewed himself as the least of the apostles. He knew where he had come from, and he knew the weaknesses that still clung to him. In 2 Corinthians, he wrote that “a thorn was given [him] in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass [him]” (12:7). No one knows exactly what this thorn was, but it bothered Paul, because he begged God three times to remove it. And three times, God answered in the negative. Eventually, Paul realized that he had this weakness to keep him from becoming conceited (12:7). It proved he was still as human as the next person. It reminded him that he too needed to constantly rely on God for strength.
Through that thorn, God taught Paul a powerful lesson. Our strength cannot come from ourselves. We are weak human beings, frail creatures of dust, and our greatest strength is nothing but a breath of air. When we put our faith in our own weakness, we’re doomed to fail. It is only through God’s strength that we can succeed in anything. And what’s more, God does not despise our weaknesses. In fact, when we give Him our failings, that is when His glory shines the brightest. When we allow Him to work in us something we could never have accomplished on our own, He alone can receive the glory. He has chosen to leave us with weaknesses so we and others might constantly have the opportunity to see Him work in us.