“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved” (Helen Keller).
Quite often, when we look in the mirror, we rarely look for flaws, imperfections, or misaligned character traits. Normally, people like to think about what is pleasant about our lives instead of the unpleasant moments of embarrassment or weakness. Therefore, an aversion for weakness causes many people to value strength as the optimum trait to project. Unfortunately, a good definition of what strength describes and what weakness means may be confused and produce a distorted interpretation of what strength actually means. According to the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service, “Your strengths are a mixture of your talents, knowledge, and skills. The theory behind strengths is based on positive psychology: everyone has strengths they are born with but few people know what these are. By identifying your strengths and matching yourself to the role, you will enjoy it more and perform better that those who have to try hard to fill the role” (Strengths) . Consequently, strengths clearly are not the inability to be defeated, nor the capability to continue in a task regardless of circumstances. Strengths characterological traits that are revealed through something that we are good at and that are and flow naturally from how we individually made.
A novel idea to consider is that some people really seem called to a life of dealing with weakness, insults, distresses, and difficulties and are content within the circumstances faced. As others look on, there arises a question as to why certain people experience a perpetual life of opposition. People like this continually face a challenge of having a winning attitude, while in the midst of a storm, a crisis, an attack, or a failure. Perhaps, the most, unique factor about this kind of person is that they have the amazing tenacity to always get up, keep going, and somehow rebound from challenges that put others down for the “dirt nap:. Have you ever considered that this person’s greatest strength and greatest challenge might be the ability to succeed—find a pathway, in spite of blockades encountered? An important factor may be that they live with an internal attitude of hope, senses of calling, and resident belief that finds a pathway in the darkest part of night. It seems that the greater the challenge bringing an appearance of weakness to others actually is a strength that comes from a sense of calling.
Consider that Paul, the Apostle suggested that within his life, whatever brought him to his knees carried the greatest potential for personal success and spiritual victory. In his words he said, “When I am weak, then I am strong”. These words, taken from Paul’s writings in 2 Corinthians12:10, bring thoughts of contradiction in the human mind. How can we be strong, when we are weak? How can we function, when it feels as though our world will break and fall apart? Shouldn’t we try to hold everything together, not letting anything slip beyond our control, our rescue, or our grasp? None of us can escape the pressures of life. In fact, most of us know what it feels like to be disappointed. We know the painfulness of embarrassment, the sting of rejection, and the sorrow of failure. Regardless of the level of control we have over our lives, there always comes a time when the stove-top settings end up on high and lids come boiling off the pots and pans.
What pots are boiling out-of-control in your life? Is there a financial need? Maybe, you are facing a relationship problem. Your prayer each night before you turn off the light is for God‘s wisdom and guidance in handling impossibilities in life. Countless people have physical needs that go far beyond what many of us can imagine. Regardless of what your situation is, you can trust this principle: whatever brings you to your knees in weakness carries within it, the greatest potential for your personal success and spiritual victory. No one enjoys feeling weak, whether it is emotionally, spiritually, or physically. There is something within the human spirit causing us to resist the thought of weakness. Many times this is nothing more than our human pride at work. Just as weakness carries a great potential for strength, pride carries an equally great potential for defeat. It cannot co-exist with God‘s Spirit of love and humility. Pride was Satan‘s downfall, and is the one element that must be removed if we want to experience the peace that comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. As long as pride is involved, there will be a distance between you and God. This happens because pride resists the loving nature of God. It cannot stand to be humbled, and this is the very thing God calls us to be.
Instead of moving you toward God, pride separates you from Him by tempting you to be strong in your own power and not in the sufficiency of Christ. Paul learned a valuable lesson in this area of his life experience. God allowed him to be buffeted by a severe trial in order to humble him and remove the potential for pride (2 Corinthians 12:7). As a young man one of the greatest scholars in Jewish thought and culture trained Saul. He understood the elements of the law and practiced them with great zeal. Yet when he came face to face with Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road his life was changed. He no longer viewed the world around him through human eyes. God gave him spiritual insight that far surpassed anything he had known. Nevertheless, Paul still, he had to be broken further, so that God could use him in an even greater way.
Like everyone else, Paul faced temptation. He was not spared affliction. One in particular was severe enough for him to pray three times for its removal. Later, he recorded its existence in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. It was through this time of weakness that Paul learned a new principle: weakness is strength. Frailty in a certain area is not something that should bring embarrassment.
When we are humbled before God, He sees the meekness of our hearts and sends His strength and blessings into our lives. Even though Paul could have listed many personal accomplishments, he chose to tell his audience what he believed was the key to experiencing a victorious life, and that was in accepting his weakness, so that the strength of Christ might live fully in him.
He was writing about living a completely surrendered life to Jesus Christ. “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (v. 9). We are called to be strong in Christ. Our strength is not within our ability or ourselves. It is in Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:19). God knows that until we come to the end of ourselves there is little chance we will turn over the reins of our lives to Him. He has given you a limited free will. This means that at any time He can step in and put a stop to a problem or a certain course you have chosen to take. Many times, He does not do this because He wants you to see that on your own you will struggle and fall, but in Him you will have strength and victory. We do not know the trial that Paul was facing. He called it a “thorn in the flesh.” In the Greek, the word thorn means a stake used for torturing or impaling someone. This was not a gentle infliction. It was painful. He writes that he was buffeted by it, indicating that the trial was either ongoing or recurring.
When Paul felt he could no longer withstand the blows leveled against him, God reassured him that His grace, the grace of God, is sufficient for anything he faced. You can respond several ways to trials. You can blame others or even God for your circumstances. You can become bitter and resentful; you can give up and end up fighting feelings of depression; grit your teeth and strive to keep all the lids perfectly on the pots, even though the heat is turned up on high; or you can surrender your desire to control your life and let God take care of you.
Weakness has the ability to bring you to the end of yourself. It is there, you realize your need for someone greater. Only Jesus Christ can calm the storm that is battering your life. Only He can provide the wisdom you need to stand and not fall in times of temptation. Obedience and commitment are two key principles for spiritual success. When we submit our lives to Jesus Christ, we are telling Him that we are ready to obey His commands. This is an indication that we are committed to Him and seek to lay down our human desires in return for an eternal perspective. Submission is a tough command, and you cannot do it without the help of Christ. If we disobey the Lord, He will allow us to hurt until our wills are broken. Painful as it is, experiencing a season of adversity may be the only way many will relinquish their need for control over their lives.
However, trials are not always a result of sin, they come to strengthen us and fit us for God’s service. Submission to Jesus Christ is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of holy allegiance, or great internal strength, power, and peace. God’s goal is for you to be weak from a human perspective but strong from a spiritual one. It is then that He fills your life with a resilient strength far beyond the comprehension of this world.