By Rick Cowman
Are you grateful for your weaknesses? You should be, because God wants to use them! I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, “God helps those who help themselves!” And you may have heard it so often that you assumed it has its roots in the Scriptures, but it doesn’t! This statement is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and buying into it is one of the biggest obstacles to being used by God!
The truth is this: God helps those who CAN’T help themselves, and who will admit they are helpless! Jesus told us this in John chapter 15: “Apart from Me, you can’t do anything!” If we want to live a fruitful life as a believer, we must realize we are helpless without Him. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul declares, “For when I am weak, then I am strong; the less I have, the more I depend on Him (LB)!” Listen to this carefully. If God says His power shows up best in our weaknesses, why would He take them away? Why would He remove from your life or mine the very thing that attracts His power? Think about this. If you had no weaknesses, how much would you depend on God?
So, why should I be grateful for my weakness? Because it prevents an arrogant attitude! In verses 7-9 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12, we read, “To keep me from being conceited...there was given me a thorn in my flesh...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’ (NIV)!” What is a thorn? Here’s a good definition from Rick Warren: “A thorn is a persistent perplexity in your life or ministry that you have no control over. And it causes pain and places limitations on your life and ministry.” If Paul could have changed his thorn, he would have. But God told him He was going to leave that weakness in his life for a purpose. What was the purpose? So he would learn to trust God instead of himself! If you’re going to be used greatly by God, you can expect to have a “thorn” in your life. But be encouraged; it’s there for His purpose!
I should also be grateful for my weakness because it will expand my ministry! Have you ever said, “God, if you’d just take care of this weakness in my life, I could serve you so much better!” May I say to you: “No, you couldn’t!” Some years after Joni Erickson Tada was left a quadriplegic from a sporting accident, she shared this testimony (roughly quoted): “I have a deep faith in God, and I had prayed and prayed for God to heal me, but He didn’t! It’s only now that I realize that if God had healed me, He would not have been able to use me as greatly to minister to others that He is today!”
God has a plan in our weaknesses! A great ministry comes out of a great weakness. And our greatest life message will come out of our deepest hurts in life! Some of you know that, and I have learned this as well. The very thing we believe will hold us back is the very thing God wants to use to help others!
So, what’s YOUR weakness? As you begin this new year, why don’t you stop complaining about it, excusing it, trying to hide it, and let God use it! God’s best this new year!