I didn’t expect this to hit me so hard. There has been the sound of children’s voices in this house, uninterruptedly, for 31 years. The first came in 1981, and the same recently drove off with my granddaughter in the back seat. The peace and quiet I always wanted is finally here and it is dreadful. No interruptions. No child wanting a meal, a ride to the mall, a Scooby Doo Band-Aid. One is surprised by how physical grief is.
I know now what Paul means now by “when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
“When I am weak then I am strong.” Yes, but not automatically. It is possible to be weak and just be weak! There is nothing inevitable here. Jesus learned obedience through suffering. He was part of the process. He was not lobotomized and simply going along for the ride.
Caution: The kind of “weak” Paul meant is not moral weakness, or sin. It is some external circumstance, or persecution, or illness, or oppression, or temptation, or other wrench thrown in the works by Satan to harass us (verse 7). But what Satan means for evil, God means for our good, and for an opportunity to prove our faith authentic (1 Peter 1:6-7). That’s why we can even rejoice in our weakness.
What we must never do is console ourselves by reading “when I am weak I am strong” as meaning that if we harbor some ongoing sin habit in our lives, it is a good thing because God will eventually use it to make us strong. No. Rather, the “weakness” that makes us strong is the one that gives opportunity to apply the continual counter-resistance of faith. For example, I can say in my present weakened state: “Lord, though my heart is breaking, I believe that in your hands this empty nest is all for my good and for the good of my family.”
To summarize, “When I am weak then I am strong,” because when I am weak I have to fight harder the good fight of the faith.
“She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers day and night …” (1 Timothy 5:5).
That would be the poster person for the verse “When I am weak, then I am strong.”