Strength Perfected in Weakness
Making disadvantages into advantages
2 Corinthians 12: 7-12
How to make Disadvantages be realized as advantages. How to utilize / leverage weakness as starting point of strength. How a disadvantage points to or shapes a strength in life.
We all have our weaknesses. And I would take it further to say that we all have ‘that’ one weakness that affects us pervasively throughout many aspects of our life. This varies between all of us whether that be a mental health condition (depression, anxiety, personality,addiction), physical health, relational disorder, a learning difficulty etc. Or some would like to simplify it by drilling all human dilemmas as a result of original sin/ sin. And no matter how much we might try to correct, manage, diminish, erase, or rehabilitate, our weakness has fingerprints all over our life still. This is clearly exemplified by the apostle Paul when he writes in his letter to the church in Corinth, his pleading to God to remove the ‘thorn in my flesh’ on three different occasions. God’s answer to Paul brought an intriguing resolve; “ My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. A familiar message from God is witnessed here. God’s way is counter intuitive to man’s way of thinking. God identifies power comes from weakness, not the human psychology of power found in strength. Instead, Paul is admonished about the power of weakness is the pathway to see and experience the power found in God. That is one translation. And the other is how weakness brings on a humility and reliance on God, versus one’s own strength. This is only the surface of such truth. Not only is this displayed throughout God’s story, but found in the DNA of life. Power is really a perceptual concept all the while realizing power and strength have its objective manifestations, we cannot avoid the truth that there is real versus perceived power. And when talking of power/strength, we are confronted with weakness. And as with God’s response to Paul, power is inverted by being perfected by weakness. This idea seems to cause one to start departing from an ‘either or’ perspective. That things like power and weakness requires a grey matter.
To plainly put it, one of the most difficult things to do as a human is not try and force complex things into a simple box; to put something in plain terms of either ‘right or wrong’, ‘ black or white’ ; ‘do or don’t do’. I think we know, however, life doesn’t work like that. Whether it’s a dynamic in marriage, raising a teenager, contending with unmatched behaviors to values. Life doesn’t always afford us clear black and white answers, strategies, and resolutions. We see this again exemplified in the ancient scriptures, Paul talking about how the flesh and spirit war with one another; how they actually lust for the others’ ability. Or how we desire to act one way, but wind up doing what we don’t want to do… Some call it contradictory or paradoxical. I call it “living in the tension of life”. There exist reasons for this dynamic of tension. Life is not always orderly; most of our life has a spectrum to it, so we deserve to allow ourselves a spectrum of existence; a grey matter if you will so we can ‘workout our lives, our salvation, our growth.
Truly, we are capable in finding ways to learn how our strength is perfected in weakness. More specifically, to learn ways to live with our disadvantage and acknowledge the strength it produces. We can avoid traps that I see us getting into such as all or nothing thinking and living. A way of approaching life and ourselves that a majority of a time fails to serve us and the life we want. An approach that says, “well its either right or wrong; or it’s got to be this way or that; I’m all in or all out; go big or go home”. I am not saying there is no “right or wrong” or no moral code to follow. What I am going to attempt to present here is that “when” we do run into conflicts, or our own behaviors, or our limitations, or contradictions, instead of immediately casting or judging them as “bad” and need correcting, I want to us to see the deeper meaning that they are trying to teach us. I am looking at this in the way of, how do we accept and work within the truth about ourselves; the weaknesses, the contradiction that naturally and truthfully present themselves? And why? I can answer these two questions by saying this: our weaknesses and contradictions are in place to help us live in a more spiritual understanding of self, God and others in order to avoid the unnecessary existence of frustration and despair.
People get depressed, frustrated, anxious and even helpless for numerous reasons. One of the common reasons or ways people get into these emotional dilemmas is the difficult thought pattern of “all or nothing, black and white” constructs. Further, by living in such thought/belief patterns it makes it difficult for anyone to accept their own contradictions and faults. This presentation/class is designed to help people find ways to live/accept their contradictions by understanding paradox. This starts in understanding how we engage in black and white thoughts; absolute thinking. By adjusting our thoughts to veer away from absolutes, we can start to find the emergent reality of living in the tension between two opposing ideas/beliefs/ situations/ feelings. It’s almost essential to be able to live in contradictory situations or possess personal contradictions. This can help us to discover deeper meanings in one’s life. By learning this information, people can start to unwind themselves from feelings of frustration, anger, anxiety, depression; and causing people to have flexible parameters in relationships, tolerance for imperfections, and appreciation for differences. A harmonious way of living.