Sometimes my weaknesses make me question the goodness of God.
“Why would God let me sin? Why can I sin? Why do I even have the ability to sin? Why can’t I just be perfect? Why do I struggle with x, y and z?”
These are questions that, honestly, run through my head sometimes and make me question the goodness of God. But there are answers running throughout the pages of Scripture, and by God’s grace He reminded me of them this morning.
“So to keep me from being conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul is “content with weaknesses.” I admit that I am far from content with my weaknesses, and I think sometimes in the church we look upon our weaknesses as a terrible, troubled thing that have no benefit and forget the great lesson Paul’s trying to teach here.
We don’t know for sure what his thorn was, what made Paul weak. There are many guesses that have been made, but it brought to me a point that I think he’s trying to make here: whatever weakness we possess, it’s to make God look more glorious. As God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Now, let me be clear here: I don’t want to say we should be content with our sinfulness. We should never be. But there are three ways that come to mind for me in which our weaknesses (sins, bad habits, flaws, etc.) make God look pretty awesome.
1. God’s character is perfect, ours is not.
I’ve always wanted to be perfect. I’ve always wanted to not sin. I’ve always wanted to be without fault. I’ve always wanted to kill all the sin in my life. Maybe not for the right reasons all the time, but it’s what I’ve desired.
But I’ve had to learn to live with the truth that I am not and will never be perfect, but God is. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. Because of the sinful flesh that still is a part of me because of the fall, I will sin. I will sin the rest of my life. I hope and I should pray more that I sin less and less as I grow in faith and understanding of God’s Word. But I need to accept that I will never be perfect.
And in light of that, God looks all the more glorious and is worthy of more and more praise because He was, is and will always be the picture of perfection. He will never ever sin. The angels around the throne in heaven sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). It’s a song that caused Isaiah to confess his sinfulness and his imperfections.
When we see the perfection of God in light of our weaknesses, our pride should take a serious blow and we should turn to praise the glorious God in heaven who is perfect in every possible way.
2. God’s plan is perfect, ours is not.
If I had my way, I’d set up everything like this: get married pretty soon, start the job of my dreams in a couple years, have a couple kids, live in a nice house, the whole American dream thing. God doesn’t work that way all the time. Some of us experience everything the way we want to, some of us don’t.
I’d actually be willing to bet that all of us don’t experience every single thing the way we want. I can point to a couple places in my life where things didn’t go my way in a big way and it was frustrating and disappointing. I can also think of times where things went my way and they turned out terribly because I rejected the good purposes of God and the truths in Scripture that He graciously gives all of us.
But God has worked great things of beauty in my life out of those situations. It wasn’t easy to see at the time, but in that 20/20 hindsight, it’s truly beautiful.
It reminds me of the great promise of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It’s for good. All of it, everything. Even our sins and our weaknesses and our imperfections. All of it works together for our good. And it’s not our plan, it’s God’s.
When we see the perfection of God’s plan in light of our idea of what’s “best for me,” our pride should take a serious blow and we should turn to praise the glorious God in heaven who has our true best in mind.
3. God’s love is perfect, ours is not.
We have a terrible time attempting to love others in their weakness. Usually, when we see a flaw in someone, we tend to love them less. I am among that group. I’ll notice something in someone I’m around that just frustrates me and I love that person less or not at all.
God doesn’t have to do that with me. He sees all the sin in my heart, in my mind and in my actions and He loves me anyway. He loves wholly, perfectly, unconditionally.
I’m reminded of the Sidewalk Prophets song “You Love Me Anyway.” At one part, the singer expresses this powerful truth:
“I am a thorn in Your crown, But You love me anyway/I am the sweat from Your brow, But You love me anyway/I am the nail in Your wrist, But You love me anyway/I am Judas’ kiss, But You love me anyway/See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd/For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground/Yes then I turned away with the smile on my face/With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace/And then alone in the night I still called out for You/So ashamed of my life, my life, my life.”
1 John 3:16 says that we know love by the fact that Christ “laid down his life for us.” That is the great example of love, and it’s the love that God shows to us even in the midst of our great weakness. Even in the midst of our great sin. Even in the midst of our failures and our rejection of God at times. If you’re truly in Christ, God loves you perfectly.
When we see the perfection of God’s love in light of our oftentimes pitiful love for Him and for others, our pride should take a serious blow and we should turn to praise the glorious God in heaven who loves us perfectly.
There’s more than three ways, but this is just a brief look.
Don’t get discouraged in your weaknesses. Instead, use them as a reminder of how glorious God is in light of your imperfections. And then remind yourself of that third point.
It’s so easy for me sometimes to see my weaknesses and just get discouraged. That’s where God’s perfect love comes into play. If you’re a believer, God’s mercy to you is paramount. That’s where the Lord’s word to Paul is so crucial: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
In our weakness, God’s grace is sufficient for everything, most importantly our salvation. Praise Him for it. But He also gives us grace so that we can grow and get better. If we were constantly trying to do the right thing, we would have no room to grow and get better, we’d be too busy trying to atone for doing the wrong thing in the first place. It’s grace that we see our weaknesses.
Our weaknesses are simply the signs on the highway showing us the way to go: towards a loving, merciful, just and gracious God who is perfect in every way, has our best in mind and loves us unconditionally.