Thursday, March 22, 2012


            I have been sick for almost two weeks and I don’t like it. I went to the doctor and was informed that I have influenza. This is probably the first time in my life that I have actually had the real flu. I’ve had my share of the “stomach flu” but that is not influenza. I feel weak all over, my chest hurts and I have a constant headache. Other than that I’m doing great.
            In my current state of less than health I have been reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul was struggling with a major affliction. He pleaded with God to heal him, but God had other plans. Here is how Paul summarized his experience.
            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. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But 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. That 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 (NIV)
            In no way do I want to equate my temporary situation to Paul’s, but I can say that I have seen the power of God at work in my weakness. Last week I was on the downward slide as I headed into Sunday. Instead of getting stronger I was getting weaker. I wondered if I would have the energy to preach three times over the course of the morning. I took the one precaution that was available to me that morning; I chose to preach sitting on a stool. During the worship time I was keenly aware of my weakness. Each time I got up to preach I felt the power of God flow through me. By the end of the morning my physical strength was spent, but I had experienced God’s strength.
            On Wednesday morning I woke up feeling a little stronger. Our monthly Senior Adult lunch was planned for that day. As the morning progressed my energy flagged. I dragged into the lunch at less than full speed. But when I got up to speak, I again experienced the power of God at work. I was able to lead some singing and give my talk without wavering. When the lunch was over I went home and collapsed.
            There are a couple of observations that I want to make from my “weakness” experience. First, my weakness reminds me of how much I need God. Without his strength I would not have been able to preach or speak. He used me in my weakness to accomplish His purpose.
            I also observed that God’s strength is given for the moment. It is not something I can grab onto and store up for the future. I have to trust Him moment by moment. At the end of Sunday morning I was exhausted (more than normal). At the end of the Senior Lunch I had nothing left. But I had all that I needed for the time I needed it.
            I have also been reminded that God could sideline me at any time. I am not invincible. I am not irreplaceable. My humanity is weak, not just when I have the flu, but all of the time. God could pull the rug out from under me at any time. Instead He continues to choose to use me in spite of my weakness.
            I am not at the place where I can honestly say that I delight in my weakness. I would really rather be back at full strength. I can say that God is present in my weakness. He continues to give me the strength to do what I need to do. Even when I am at my best I am totally dependent upon God. It is His grace that enables me to serve Him in any meaningful way.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

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