Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

When I Am Weak, I Am Powerful

Popular Translation

6b-7 I won't brag about all the things God has shown me. For, someone might think a lot more about me than what he sees me do or hears me say. Just so I won't think too highly of myself, an angel of Satan to give me a real problem, like a pain in the side, and use it to beat me up. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take the problem away. But Lord replied, "My grace is enough for your problem. Remember, weakness perfects my power in you." 9 So, I am glad to brag about my weakness. That way, the power of Christ will live in me. 10 I'm happy with weakness, insults, hard times, the anger of others, and difficult situations, all because of Jesus. When I am weak, I have God's power.

Literal Translation

6b But I refrain, lest someone might think (more) about me beyond what he sees or hears [something] from me, 7 the abundance of revelations. Therefore, so that I might not become (too) elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me by an angel of Satan, so that he might beat me (figuratively with a fist), so that I might not become (too) elated. 8 I called (begging) upon the Lord three times, so that it might be taken from me. 9 But he has told me, "My grace is enough for you. For (my) power is made whole in weakness." So, I will gladly boast more about my weakness, so that the power of CHRIST will dwell upon me. 10 Therefore, I am happy with weakness, with abuses, with hardships, with persecutions, with difficulties, (all) for the sake of CHRIST. For, when I am weak, I am powerful.

Pride comes before the fall.

We all brag about our possessions, our relatives, our abilities. One-Upmanship is nothing new. Unfortunately, bragging leads to unrealistic expectations of self and others. What we brag about can be our undoing, even if our boasts are based in solid fact.

Paul knew the shortcomings of bragging. He had received direct revelation and even heavenly vision. (See 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.) His ministry gave him a place of leadership in the universal Church. His travels gave him more than enough material for entertainment. His endurance through persecution and hard times gave him wisdom for his congregation. Paul could place himself over his audience, with a firm belief that he earned his position. But, why did he humble himself? Why did he share his "thorn in the flesh" revelation? Beyond defending himself from his critics, Paul used this self-revelation to show his humanity before the face of his God. Popularity was not always permanent. Ego meant nothing to God. Bragging was just so much "hot air."

Beyond bragging, Paul showed his audience the key to Christian living. Weakness makes one dependent. But, dependent upon whom? When Christians were dependent upon God, they did his will. When Christians depended upon themselves, they stopped being Christians. When they were weak, they were open to the power of God.

Life's problems can intrude upon our self determination. Freedoms are limited. Responsibilities can increase. These are the times for faith, not self-pity. These are the times to remember Paul's words. "When I am weak, I am powerful with God's grace."

Pride comes before the fall. But grace raises us up beyond our status and expectations.

When has God helped you to live with your problems? How has his strength helped you with your "thorns in the flesh?"