When Weakness Becomes Strength

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  4 : 7
Subject: Weakness; Strength; God's Way; Christian Living

2 Corinthians 4:7

One day an eight-year boy went to the pet store with his dad to buy a puppy. The store manager showed them to a pen where five little furry balls huddled together. After a while, the boy noticed one in the litter all by itself in an adjacent pen. The boy asked, "Why is that puppy all alone?" The manager explained, "That puppy was born with a bad leg and would be crippled for life, so we're going to have to put him to sleep." The boy asked, "You're going to kill this little puppy?" The manager answered, "You have to realize that this puppy would never be able to run and play with a boy like you." After a short conversation with his boy, the dad told the manager that they wanted to buy the puppy with the bad leg for the same amount of money, you could have one of the healthy ones.

“Why do you want this one?" To answer the manager's question, the boy bent over and pulled up the pants on his right leg, exposed the brace underneath and said, "Mister, I want this one because I understand what he's going through."

The little boy was drawn to the weakness of the puppy because of the weakness in his own life. Only when we realize our own weaknesses can we relate to and help others in their weaknesses.

Last week I began a series dealing with the results of hurts that come into our lives. I used the illustration of a hornet sting I received this summer. As I could not heal until the stinger was removed, you cannot heal from emotional, physical, and relational hurts until the stingers from these hurts are dealt with in your life.

Today I want to deal with weaknesses. Every one of us has weaknesses. Weakness can be defined as any limitation we cannot change. Our weaknesses may be circumstantial. Perhaps you were born with them. Your weakness may be financial, or relational, or emotional. You have a tendency to depression, fear or worry. It could be that your weakness is a lack of ability. Not everyone has the same number of talents. Or, it could be that your weakness is physical - a handicap of some kind.

Furthermore, it could be that your weakness is your past.

What do we do with our weaknesses? Normally we deny them. Sometimes we try to defend them. Or, we may excuse them or hide them. God, however, wants to use them. We think God should use our strengths.

In Isaiah 55 the lord says, "My ways are not your ways."

In 1 Corinthians 1:27 the Lord says, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

In 2 Corinthians 4:7 He says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us."

In other words, God puts his greatest gifts in ordinary containers. You don't have to suffer the sting of your weaknesses; you can submit them to God. He will use them. However, in order for God to use them, we have to do some important things. That is what we need to look at today.

I. Concede Your Weaknesses (Admit)

God can use your weaknesses when you stop pretending you have it all together; when you stop hoping they will go away. You and I have to stop excusing them. We have to stop blaming others for them.

The first step to turning weaknesses into a plus rather than a minus is to say; "I am weak in this area." If you are building a business and you are smart, this is what you do. You look at your strengths. You also look at your weaknesses. You hire people who compensate for your weaknesses.

If we want readily admit our weaknesses, God will bring a crisis so we will admit them.

II. Celebrate Your Weaknesses (Accept)

This is tough. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 12, "I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of God." It is not easy in our world to concede much less celebrate weaknesses. There are benefits of weaknesses.

A. Weakness Causes Us To Seek God's Help

God said to Paul, when he was complaining about his thorn in the flesh, "I am with you and I am all you need." You need God's power this week. "You don't normally realize God is all you need, until he's all you've got."

B. Weakness Prevents Arrogance

Paul called his weaknesses thorns in the flesh. God gives thorns. Thorns are not sin. Some are temporary. Some are removed gradually. Some last a lifetime. They keep me humble and dependent.

C. Weakness Causes Me To Value Others

Strength breeds an independent spirit. God desires that we value one another, so he spreads out the gifts and abilities.

D. Weakness Gives Us A Ministry

God placed you on this earth to help other people; not to just live for yourself. Your greatest ministry will flow out of your weaknesses. Who can better help a person going through?

Who can help a person face a divorce better than a person who has been there? How about facing unemployment? Or, how about dealing with an addiction, rearing a handicapped child, dealing with mental illness or confronting depression? No one can help better than someone who has been there and come out of the other side.

III. Confess Your Weaknesses (Acknowledge)

A. It Is Socially Risky

Yes it is risky and it makes us vulnerable to confess our weaknesses. James Cook, who discovered Hawaii and other pacific islands, was treated, on one island, as a God. He was placed on a  pedestal. When he left the island, he sailed into a storm. Fearful of the winds and waves he returned to the island. The islanders murdered him and his men. He fell from the pedestal and they couldn't handle it. So, yes, it is risky to confess your weaknesses. However, it is It is emotionally healthy.

B. It Is Emotionally Healthy

You try to keep up pretense and it creates enormous pressure. James says, "Confess your faults one to another that you may be healed." It has been said that, "Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing." Some things in your life will not budge until you share them with others.

C. It Is Spiritually Empowering

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Grace: what we need, not what we deserve. Grace is the power to change. Grace comes to those who are humble. Humility is admitting weakness and accepting God's grace.

D. It Is Relationally Attractive

We love people who are open, honest and vulnerable. People identify with people who struggle as they do.

E. It Is Physically Strengthening

God always uses weak people.

Moses - the man God chose to lead Israel was given to impulsiveness and inadequacy.

David - a man after God's own heart. It wasn't that he was a pure man; God made him a pure man.

Abraham - the father of faith: worried so much he asked his wife to pose as his sister, so the enemy wouldn't kill him and take her away from him.

Gideon - Israel faced an enemy 135,000 strong. God chose the smallest tribe, the poorest family, and the youngest kid to be Israel's deliverer.

Jacob - was a great picture of strength; yet he was weak. He was called a conniver. He wrestled with God. God gave him a limp. God told him that he was to depend upon God. He assured him that he would no longer run from his problem. His name changed to Israel.

Peter - Rock, Stable. He was anything but stable. He cut off a soldier's ear, yet denied the Lord.

God used weak people and He strengthened them with His strength. Let us turn to Him with our weaknesses right now. Let us begin with confessing our weakness in the face of temptation. Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us so we can run with patience the race that is set before us.