“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.” ~Saint Paul
2 Corinthians 12:10
“Danger? Ha! I walk on the wild side. I laugh in the face of danger. Ha ha ha ha!” ~Simba, The Lion King
It seems Simba and Paul may have a lot in common. If we read the verses that precede 2 Corinthians 12:10, we find Paul boasting about the troubles in his life. He had been beaten to an inch of his life, shipwrecked, in danger from the elements, from bandits, and even, from his fellow countrymen. Hungry and thirsty, cold and naked, the list goes on and on. (See it here.) He certainly was no stranger to walking on the wild side. Living and promoting the Good News put him into some very precarious situations. His boasting is not for boasting sake but rather to make a point. If he must brag about something, (and apparently, he has a lot to brag about) he wants it to be clear his weakness is at the top of the list. Paul actually says he finds delight in it.
So, why all the joy over being weak? Happiness seems quite the opposite reaction to most people when it comes to suffering. Paul’s answer is found in verse 9 of Second Corinthians 12.
“But He (Jesus) 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.”
The idea of ‘Christ’s power resting’—episkenooin the Greek—means to pitch a tent or inhabit. Think about what it means to apply episkenoo to our lives. Jesus’s power coming over us and making itself at home in us.
For Paul, this was the prize he was after—more Jesus.
“But whatever was an asset (those things he boasted about) to me, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Paul is saying nothing mattered more than knowing Christ and it was worth every bit of suffering if that brought them closer together in relationship. He welcomed weakness because with it he welcomed more of Jesus. And that brought him great joy.
It is counterintuitive to our worldly thinking—this idea of laughing in the face of whatever wants to drag us down. But what happens when we are weak? We turn to the One who has power to change things. And that’s extraordinary. Instead of giving up under the pressure of persecution we can revel in the result.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”