Paul’s name would never make a list of weaklings …
As Saul, he was an unrepentant executor of Christians. After his dramatic conversion, which included temporary blindness, the tent-maker’s life was filled with trials and sufferings—enough to make the most stout-hearted man turn back from serving God. Paul himself admitted that he could not count the number of floggings he received. He suffered close to 40 lashes five different times, was stripped and beaten with rods three times, and stoned once. He was shipwrecked and left for dead on the angry seas, betrayed by those portraying themselves as Christians, and imprisoned in a jail cell running waist deep with raw sewage. Paul was a strong man to have gone through so much with unwavering faith. Yet he gloried in his weaknesses–even boasted in how weak he was:
Each time he said, ‘No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.’ Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite happy about “the thorn,” and about insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong—the less I have, the more I depend on him. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
In our world, weakness is something to hide. It can cause others to take advantage of our plight, and it can lead us to feelings of helplessness. But Paul saw weakness as a gift that pointed him to his need for a Savior and pointed others to Jesus as well. This brave apostle who suffered so much was able to say that he could be thankful for his weaknesses because they pointed him to Christ. And if we are wise, we will allow our weakness to lead us to the Lord:
But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need. Hebrews 4: 14-16
How do you see weakness? How do you feel after reading the words of Hebrews 4–that Jesus understands your weaknesses? Does this passage cause you to see weakness in a positive light–leading you to Christ?