“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
We have a big issue in our culture today called self-sufficiency. We don’t want to rely on anyone, because we can do everything our selves. In many modern cultures, self-sufficiency is prized. People cheer over stories of the man who “pulled himself up by his boot straps.” A lot of folks don’t like to admit the need for help from other people or from the Lord, since a can-do attitude seems far more impressive. In a word, the problem is pride.
Adversity punches holes in pride. Paul reported that he had a lot of reasons to be arrogant—a good pedigree, education, religious fervour, etc. (Phil. 3:5-6). Even after his conversion, he had plenty of opportunity get a swelled head. God had specifically called him to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. But the Lord also gave him a “thorn in the flesh”—an obstacle so great that Paul required constant spiritual assistance to work through it. This was the pin that burst the apostle’s pride balloon and then kept it so full of holes that it couldn’t re-inflate.
God uses adversity in much the same way in our lives. We find ourselves in a situation that is beyond our capacity to handle. So we try to pull those bootstraps, but nothing happens. That is when God offers His sufficiency, His might, and His guidance. Those who submit to Him discover renewed strength, as His power dwells within them.
Self-sufficiency is no prize; it is a trap. That’s why God’s message is the opposite of the one that the world trumpets so loudly. Those who desire to conquer adversity must sacrifice self-reliance to depend upon Him. When we are weak, His Spirit makes us strong.
We can stop trying to do everything in our own strength and start relying and trust our Father in Heaven.