None of us enjoys being insulted or excluded. We don’t want to be the ones who are weak and get trampled. We naturally put great effort into avoiding difficulty. Yet when hardship comes to us for Jesus’ sake, through persecution or harassment, we can find delight in knowing that our weakness makes room for God’s strength to be revealed in us, to His glory.
Earlier, Paul warned readers he was going to start sarcastically bragging about his qualifications as an apostle. This was meant to satirize his self-promoting opponents in Corinth. In reality, Paul mostly described his weaknesses and suffering. The previous verse made his motivations clear. God said His “power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Greek word being used there teleitai, refers to completion or accomplishment. Paul wanted to show how much weaker he was, as a person, in comparison to his opponents. Then the Corinthians would know just how powerful Christ was, as they looked to and through Paul’s life.
In that way, Paul has turned boasting upside down. It’s not that he doesn’t care if others think he is weak. It’s that he truly is weak and he wants everyone to know it. For the sake of Christ, he is content, even with all sorts of trials and suffering. He has made peace with the fact that such weakness in his life is exactly what is needed. It is what pulls Paul’s earthly self aside, leaving room for Christ’s strength to accomplish what God has called Paul to do.
Believers must trust God the most in areas of their lives where they are weakest, or where they suffer the most. God’s power is never more convincing than when a human perspective produces no answer about how to get through what confronts us. In that same seemingly-backwards way, Christians who are trusting God are most powerful when they have the least self-reliance. God’s power is far and away more capable than our own.
And we pray:
Lord, as I struggle with the insults, the coldness, and in some instances the hostility of those who oppose me, help me to lean on Your strength. I am too weak on my own to withstand the burdens. Still, I trust that Your good work will be revealed through my hardship, and I take joy in knowing that my victory in You is secure. In Jesus’ name, Amen.