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How Can That Be?

Are you sometimes confused by sayings that seem to contradict themselves? As a figure of speech, this combination of contradictory words is called an oxymoron (compressed paradox). You know, sayings like, “I am sending you an original copy” or “Wow, that dog is pretty ugly.” Maybe after having a disagreement with someone you have said this, “I was clearly misunderstood.” We sometimes call something “bittersweet.” Has someone ever called you a “wise fool?” And why does Hawaii have “interstate highways?”

We see one of those seemingly contradictory statements in the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 we read these words – “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

How can that be? Either you are weak or you are strong, but surely not both at the same time. Let’s look at that verse again in context. In Chapter 12 and verse 5 of 2 Corinthians the apostle Paul tells us that he has some weakness, some affliction. The precise nature of his affliction is not known, but in verse 7 Paul says this – “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Whatever this thorn was, Paul wanted it gone. We now pick up in verse 8 – “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.”

We see from these verses that while the “thorn” remained, God promised that His grace is all that Paul needed, and that the best solution to removing the thorn is God’s power showing up in the midst of Paul’s weakness. What Paul is saying is that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, and the more we acknowledge our weakness, the more evident and enabling is God’s strength in us and through us. In Ephesians 3:16 Paul prays – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” And in Philippians 4:13, Paul says – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

So while you might find it hard to boast about your weakness, your thorn, you can rest assured that in your weakness God’s power is at its strongest. It is our prayer today, that in the midst of your weakness, whatever it might be, you can experience God’s intimate presence as you say “For when I am weak, then I am strong!”

Now that you understand the non contradiction of being weak and strong at the same time, we will end with this… What does it mean to be “found missing” or just what are “jumbo shrimp?”

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina



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