Last year, I taught through First and Second Corinthians to a bunch of middle and high school students. It was a different kind of study from the study of Genesis we’ve been doing this year. It was a little more cerebral and a little more application heavy. It was deep in a way that sometimes bored the kids but was totally beneficial for me. Sometimes, in Second Corinthians, as a teacher, I felt a little lost.
Especially difficult were passages such as the one in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about his visions and the thorn in his flesh. Not only, does Paul have a difficult thorn in his flesh, but in verses 9-10, he gives God glory for his weakness. Here’s what verses 9-10 say:
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. 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.
I’ve never quite mastered the concept of feeling strong in my weaknesses. I often curse them rather than give God the glory. I sometimes see God working in the areas where I am weaker because I give God more room to work. When I think I am strong, I often want to do things myself, and then I am too proud to let God do the work that he needs to do in my life.
One of the books I read this fall was John Piper’s Bloodlines. In this book, Piper deals with race relations, and he discusses the unity that we all have in Christ. As I read the book, I often found myself thinking about my own weaknesses and my pride, and I found things that, had I read this book before I studies this passage, I would have shared with my class. Among them is this quote:
Only the gospel can do two seemingly contradictory things: destroy pride and increase courage. Destroy self-exaltation and increases confidence. Destroy the pushiness of self-assertion and deliver from the paralysis of self-doubt.
God has really worked a lot in my life, and I am thankful for that. He rescues me from my pride, even when I completely hate it. He gives me the hope and confidence I need to make it through the day, and I am completely thankful for that. When I am weak, he makes me strong.