“I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a madman-with far greater labors, far greater imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 11:16-31 ESV Continue reading
Tag Archives: Strength in Weakness
Have you ever experienced an earth shattering, life changing, stop you right in your tracks kind of event that tuned your world upside down? Just a few years ago, my family’s lives were changed when were in a horrible car accident that landed me in shock trauma for a month and another 10 months recovering. It was one of those experiences that will definitely go down in our family’s history book as a game changer.
Just today I was talking with someone about something completely unrelated to our experience and realized that I think of life as “before the accident” or “after the accident”. It has left a mark on our family mentally, spiritually and physically. Our trials, our pain, the lasting effects of trauma still rear their ugly head on a daily basis. Not too long ago, I was really caught off guard and convicted in my own self pity. You see, when there’s a life altering event, things are never the same again. I was fortunate to survive the accident and be put back together by some great surgeons and we, quite literally, experienced a miracle but there are lasting effects that friends and family don’t always see. There’s the day to day pain, medications for permanent nerve damage, intersections to avoid because it’s too hard to see and difficulties traveling in any type of moving vehicle, bus or plane . I am not the same friend and mom I was before and often tire quickly and have difficulty with even mundane tasks.
In reading Paul’s word, I am convicted and reminded that these weaknesses I now experience in my life are a reminder of how big my of God is. Not just that he saved me from death in the accident but so much more than that.
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
We learned so much from that blink of an eye moment in time three and a half years ago. We learned how to rely on the Lord for strength. We learned how to accept help from others and lean on our brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer and support. The good and fruitful things we experienced from the hardship was far greater than bad. When I feel the pain in my neck or the numbness in my arm, I am reminded of my weaknesses. In my weakness, He is strong. And like Job, the Lord has blessed us beyond measure and far greater than we could ever imagine.
Sometimes we don’t understand the things we are going through and there are certain experiences we never will. But we can be sure that the Lord has a purpose in everything.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you” Job 42:2-5
Dear Lord, help me to boast only in my weakness and in your strength. Thank you for having a purpose in everything, even when we don’t understand. May we decrease so that you may increase!
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30
As a believer living in a country that still allows religious freedom, I know that I am blessed to be able to attend worship services, pray for people in public, carry my Bible (on my phone), listen to Christian music on the radio, etc. I know that I can do all of those things to worship and serve my God without fearing for my life.
I also know, that before I began spending time in a country that doesn’t offer the same freedoms, I didn’t really even think, other than peripherally, about the persecuted church. I never quite understood having to hide my faith or having my life threatened for standing up for my belief in Christ.
I am always amazed by the stories of persecution that I hear from the native missionaries and pastors that my husband and I work with in India. And, I am amazed by their strength, found in Jesus, to carry on and make a stand in the face of death.
Some stories of persecution are horrific; the outcome is martyrdom, told by survivors. They are stories of stabbings on the street side, beatings, being held hostage in their home only to be burned to death. But many stories become testimonies to God never-failing mercy.
One story hit close to home for me. Many years ago, my husband experienced one of these life or death situations. As he preached the Gospel in a remote village, some Hindu extremists threatened him, told him to leave their village and never come back. They never gave him the chance to stay away as they began trying to beat the life out of him. They smashed his face in and battered his body; then left him for dead. A good ‘Samaritan’ took him to the hospital, where by God’s grace his body healed and he was able to continue being a witness from his bed and eventually go back into the villages to share the stories of Jesus’ sacrifice, despite the threats that are continually issued by deceived men.
Another story gives me courage every time I go into a village to share the message of hope. Native missionaries, Ambika and Susilla, in their old age, would go into the villages every day to conduct children’s ministry and pray for the people. One day as they were walking from one area to another, a drunken man accosted them. He began screaming at them, threatening their lives with a machete. All of their faith was in their Lord and Savior; they stood strong in Christ and told the man that they would never stop telling people about, even if he killed them. He was even more angered that they were not daunted by his threats and lunged at them. God’s hand protected them, and when he came nearer to them, his whole demeanor instantly changed. He lowered the blade and was sobered. Instead of killing them, he instead asked them to pray for him.
Just like Paul, there are countless Christians who are continually faced with making the choice between their lives and their faith. Those believers who stand in steadfast regardless of the consequence are testaments to the goodness of God and the strength that He offers in times of need.
Yesappa, Thank You for always being there, by my side; for giving me strength when I am weak. Thank You for offering courage, for supplying protection for my spirit. Help me stand strong for You and the sacrifice that You made for me, in the face of persecution as the end days draw nearer and nearer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Lord, why are people important to you?
Why do you even think about human beings?
People are like a breath;
their lives are like passing shadows. Psalm 144:3-4 (NCV)
There are times in my life when I suffer from hopelessness. In those moments, my world as I know it comes crashing down around me, dreams shatter and desires smash. And, like most people, I begin questioning “why”.
When I feel hopeless, I experience a sense of depression. I wonder if I am valuable to anyone, loved by anyone. I start thinking about what could have been, fantasizing about greener grasses. It is easy to listen to the lies of the enemy when I am vulnerable, the whispers of worthlessness, insinuations of rejection.
…Now a better hope has been given to us, and with this hope we can come near to God. Hebrews 7:19b (NCV)
Before I knew Jesus, my hope was based on my aspirations and on my relationships with people who surrounded me. Then, when the Lord revealed Himself, arms wide open, waiting expectantly for me to walk into His embrace, I began to see that my hope needed to be grounded in Christ. I realized the importance of centering my expectations on the Everlasting, Always-Loving God.
…Because Jesus lives forever, he will never stop serving as priest. So he is able always to save those who come to God through him because he always lives, asking God to help them.
Jesus is the kind of high priest we need. He is holy, sinless, pure, not influenced by sinners, and he is raised above the heavens. He is not like the other priests who had to offer sacrifices every day, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. Christ offered his sacrifice only once and for all time when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:24-27 (NCV)
When I put my hope in the fallible things around me, in mutable thoughts of the future I will inevitably be disappointed. When I put my hope in other people – family, friends, and those I don’t even really know – I am often hurt, my heart disillusioned and feeling more lonely than ever.
Happy are those who are like this;
happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 144:15 (NCV)
But, when I draw near to God, placing my hope in Him, I am able to give thanks in all things. And, when I choose to bless His name, especially when circumstances are challenging, happiness arises from His gift of sufficient grace. I remember my heavenly identity and the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross. I find joy in my salvation. I discover that I’ve become strong despite my weakness and my faith has been fortified.
Yesappa, Thank You for being my hope, my salvation. Thank You for thinking of me and counting me as important, valuable, and worthy of Your Love. Thank you for Your steadfastness and Your grace. Thank you for drawing near to me as I draw near to You. Thank You for Your many blessings over my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.