When Weakness Turns to Strength
In the world, the strong often rule over the weak. In God’s kingdom, the principles that govern the proper use of strength and power are radically different. Strength is not given so that we can strut around like a rooster or peacock, vainly drawing attention to ourselves. Strength is an asset that God enables us to partake of so we can help others, not to dominate or exploit them.
Romans 15:1 in the Message version reads, “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status.”
While it is true that power has often corrupted people, caused them to forget God, and brought out the worst in them, it does not have to be that way. If we stay humble before God and use whatever he gives us wisely and for his glory, God can trust us with much. It is important, though, that we are diligent to keep a proper perspective of power and strength. Never come to God in your strength, but come to God for your strength.
Scripture is full of examples of people who acknowledged their need and their dependence upon God. As long as they remembered that God was their source, and the strength they received was for his glory, all went well. Paul is a great example of this. When Paul was troubled over a messenger of Satan (which he called a thorn in the flesh), he cried out to God for help. What was the Lord’s response?
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9
9 He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul had come to the end of himself, and there he found strength from God.
This is not unlike some of the heroes of faith described in the Old Testament. Scripture states, “Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight” (Heb 11:34, NLT). I really appreciate the way J. B. Phillips renders this: “From being weaklings they became strong men and mighty warriors.”
As Christians we need not fear that God will condemn us or look down on us because of our weaknesses. On the contrary, Jesus empathizes with and offers us comfort and support. The Bible tells us that Jesus “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT).
We should keep in mind that God’s power and the resurrection are inextricably linked. Romans 1:4 proclaims that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Likewise, Paul also teaches that, “God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Cor 16:4). There is another very powerful verse that contrasts weakness and power relative to the crucifixion and the resurrection.
2 CORINTHIANS 13:4
4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.
It may seem a bit paradoxical when we consider the power-weakness relationship in Scripture, but remember that God is the one who will ultimately reconcile all things and make all things right. Those who arrogantly flaunt power in a godless way will someday find themselves brought to nothing. However, those who humble themselves before God and acknowledge their profound need for him will find themselves being strengthened tremendously.
A few other Scriptures reveal God’s desire to strengthen us in life:
PSALM 75:10 (NLT)
10 For God says, “I will break the strength of the wicked, but I will increase the power of the godly.”
5 A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.
ISAIAH 40:29-31 (NLT)
29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
10 Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
2 TIMOTHY 2:1
1 Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
God has not only made his intentions known regarding us partaking of his strength, but he has also made his very strength available to us. In Philippians 3:10 (AMP), Paul expresses his desire to know Christ more intimately, but also to “come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers].” What an amazing thought! The power that flows out from the resurrection of Christ exerts its influence over believers. What a great source of empowerment for each of us!
Why does God want to empower us, and why does he want us to be strong in him?
- So that we can glorify Him.
- So that we can live godly lives in this world.
- So that we can help others who need help.
- So that we can live victoriously in this life.
- So that we can be effective witnesses.
- So that we can be godly husbands, wives, and parents.
Never turn away from God because of weakness in your life, but turn to him and allow him to strengthen and empower you to do all that he’s called you to do.