“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
How can you be weak and strong at the same time, Paul? How can you take pleasure in being sick? How can you take pleasure in being reproached? How can you take pleasure in being in need? How can you take pleasure when you are persecuted? How can you take pleasure when you are in distress? How does Jesus enable you to do that? I need to know. Because the same way Jesus enables you, is the way Jesus will enable me.
This is pretty strong stuff here. This pleasure is from the Greek word “eudokeo.” It means to think well of, approve, to take pleasure in, to delight in. It’s the same word family that God used to say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” So how do I learn to delight in all this hard stuff to the extent of God’s delight in Christ? Is that possible?
Well, Jesus, You say that the answer is a loud, “Yes!” You tell me that “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) You tell me that if I “can believe, all things are possible” to the one that believes. (Mark 9:23) And in Mark 14:36 when You were preparing to go through these kinds of things Yourself to the worst degree, You affirmed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto You.” But to that You added the clincher that I need to remember. It’s not about my will, but all about Your will.
Sickness is a tough thing, especially debilitating diseases. But You are telling me that even if I have a debilitating disease, I can delight in the midst of it. What in the world am I delighting in? Can I really delight in my disease? I can do it for Christ’s sake. But what does that mean?
Can I do it because I’m suffering for Christ? Is that what that means? The Greek words are actually “huper Christos” and when I look at Strong’s it tells me that “huper” is about being over, above, beyond, or casually for the sake of. But I don’t think this is casual stuff here. But that “huper” part, that above and beyond, in Christ, well that intrigues me.
I mean, what if I’m not doing these things for the sake of Christ in the english sense? What if Christ is doing this in me? What if, in the middle of all these negative situations, He is rising above the situation, ruling over me and my heart and my mind and the circumstances? What if I am allowing Him to stretch me beyond my limits because there are no limits in Him? I don’t think this is a casual thing and I don’t think it’s about me and my power. I think it’s all about hupos Christos, that my Jesus is above and over and beyond everything. And when I come to submit and surrender to that reality, to Him in every situation good or bad, then I get to delight in the hupos Christos Himself as He raises me above each situation even in the midst of the situation.
I can take pleasure in my debilitating disease because Jesus is there doing wonderful things in my life despite the ravaging of the disease. I can delight in the reproaches of others when I am walking firmly in His way because He rises above the reproaches and speaks more loudly and lovingly in my ears. When I am in need, I can delight, because I know that You, Lord, will meet my need, You will rise above it and provide. When I’m persecuted for standing for You, You will stand for me because I am Yours. I can delight in waiting on You and on seeing and experiencing Your fellowship and vindication because my joy is in You and not the physical deliverance. See, You are my Deliverance. And when distresses and calamaties and hard pressing rise against me, You raise higher.
See, it’s not about what Paul did. It’s not about what I do. Well, we both have to rely on You and depend on You and expect You to be You. But this hupos Christos is all about You being You in our lives. It’s all about me having the right expectations, knowing that these tough things are coming. But as tough as they are, You will always be above them.
Therefore, when I am weak, because, in the midst of these things I am very weak, then I am strong. Why? Well, it’s not because of me at all just as it wasn’t due to Paul. It’s because You are right there with us. You were with Paul every step of the way. You never leave us nor forsake us. And if we don’t leave You or forsake You then we know we can depend on hupos Christos. When I am weak, then I am strong because You are always strong and You are always there in me and for me.
I have to confess, I’ve been thinking about weakness a lot lately. It’s been in my thoughts over the last couple of years and recently. And maybe I’ve been focussing on my weakness and it makes me feel wearier. And I think that when I focus on my weakness, I have a tendency to use it as an excuse and I become weaker. But then that’s lying about my relationship in You. And I don’t want to believe that lie any more.
The fact of the matter is that on my own I am utterly weak. But I’ve placed my trust in You; You own my life, my everything. I’m not weak any more because I am in hupos Christos. You are my strength. And though I’m weak and when I’m weak, I’m really not so weak any more because You are strong in me. So my prayer is that I would never forget that truth. I want to always live in the truth that You inhabit me with Your strength. And it’s just a matter of me continually surrendering to You. I want to be strong. I need to be strong for my sake so that I don’t fall into temptation and into sin. But I’m also learning that I must be strong for the sake of others. Because if I hold on to my weakness and fall, I will take others with me. I don’t want to do that. That would break my heart.
So, Lord, give me a heart, mind, and spirit that continually trust in and rely on Your strength in me. Teach me how to be strong in You that I may teach others how to be strong in You. Take my eyes off of me, and firmly and forever rivet them on You. Because of Who You Are, because of Your strength, I can be strong like Paul. I will trust in You, my sword and my shield, my forever deliverer.