I don’t like feeling weak. The feeling of not having control over my circumstances leaves me feeling vulnerable. And I don’t like this. Yet the theme of God’s power working through the weakness of man runs throughout the Bible and especially in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
Most of us know by heart the beautiful way He sums it up in chapter 12 verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God delights in showing His power when we have come to the end of ourselves. When we are no longer relying on God’s power plus our abilities or any other thing. When there is nothing left for us to hold on to but God. If we hold on to Him then, then God shows His power.
Normally we would rather have some other “tangible” things to hold onto as well, as we look to God. But our God is a jealous God. He will often allow all our other hopes to slip away so that we can hope in Him alone. This is the experience the hymn-writer was talking about when he wrote, ” Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross, I cling”. Hallelujah!
From experience, I can tell you it is not a sweet experience when all the ground on which we stand becomes sinking sand! But it is good for us because what our soul really needs is God. It is only as we learn to hope in Him alone that we can have and see the manifestation of His power and experience real victory.
You see, God’s power is only available to those who have come to the end of themselves. These people turn to God and He turns their weakness to strength, ” whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” Heb. 11:34b (NIV)
Our strength can be a hindrance to the manifestation of God’s strength. 2 Samuel 6:1-9 tells the story of David returning the ark of God to Jerusalem. At a point, the oxen carrying the ark stumbled and a man named Uzzah quickly reached out to save the ark from falling, but acted irreverently and ended up dying.
Most times in the Bible people’s name reflect who they were. ‘Uzzah’ meant ‘strength’ and we can safely conclude that he was not a weak man. He must have been one who was quick to act and step in to bring solutions as he did in this case. He must have done many good things in the past through this strength. Yet it was Uzzah’s strength that became his undoing at the threshing floor of Nacon when he jumped in to help God by steadying the ark of God. Let’s beware of our strengths for they can sometimes become a hindrance to God. God said to Paul, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor 12: 9 – NLT). And the reverse is also true — God’s power works least when we are depending on our own strength. God’s power can only work perfectly in us and in our situation when we walk in the place of total dependency on God.
We need to deliberately rely on God in those areas in which we feel most capable. It is very easy to pray and throw ourselves upon God when we feel incapable. But we need to learn to do this even in the areas of our strength. Let us not lean on our own understanding; let us consult God. Let us not run our affairs in our own strength; let’s rely on God. Dependence on God is what brings true strength. Paul understood this for he said, ‘And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.’ (2 Cor 12: 9 – NLT). In other words, ‘The more dependent I am on God, the stronger I become’!
To try to live life in our strength or to hold onto any other hope is not wise because nothing else is really reliable. To hope in them is to open ourselves to heartache, but God is always sure, His promises are reliable. He cannot lie nor deceive us. We can hope in Him and be sure that we will never be put to shame.
Looking back at the troubles that made him feel so weak Paul said, “… this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but in God, who raises the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:9b – NIV) Are you facing death in any area of your life? Does it feel as if all hope is lost? Do you feel incapable of going on? Perhaps God has allowed you to come to this point so that He may perfectly reveal His power in your situation. Turn to him and allow him to do it.