Few Delight In Weaknesses, Insults, Hardships, Persecutions, And Difficulties
Does labeling start at school, even at kindergarten? Young children easily decide who is shy and timid and who is pushy and bossy. From young children to adults and beyond, some folks are seen as weaker and perhaps needing protection, while other people are seen as strong and in no need of any help. Often, children and adults resent being labeled as weak and don’t want to be considered so weak that they are teased, insulted, or persecuted. Being weak invites hardships and difficulties as those who seem powerless.
I asked Ed, my old neighbor in Saskatchewan, what is the source of our power or strength? He said it comes from ourselves, being healthy, confident, our attitude that we are strong rather than weak. We both agreed that people want to be seen and think of themselves as powerful rather than weak. Ed summed it up this way, “Few want to be seen as weak or old. Everyone knows the older you get, the weaker you may become.”
It would seem strength and power are in, and weakness is out. But there are a few wise voices that caution about power. E. Albey warns, “Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best.” R. Heinlein cautions, “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
R.W. Emerson suggests, “Our strength grows out of our weakness.” This is the case of Christians who understand Isaiah 40:29, “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
Paul speaks of God’s power this way: “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, 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, 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9,10.
Jesus displayed the power of God, which was teaching, healing, curing sickness and death. He was tempted but remained sinless as God’s Son. His sinlessness or righteousness was for us who cannot be sinless. He did not amass an army to gain political control. His kingdom was not of this world. He was a humble carpenter who became a rabbi willing to suffer in weakness and death to bless others. Jesus came as a servant to serve God his Father in heaven and sinful humankind here on earth.
Isaiah 50:5,6 pictures Jesus’ willingness to conquer evil with what many thought of as weakness. Instead, it was a sacrificial death on a cross in love for others. “I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” Jesus was cut off from the land of the living crushed in death on the cross for our iniquities. In our world, power and strength are considered best, but Jesus set for us the example of self-sacrifice for others.