When you’re weak, then are you strong like Paul was?
To authenticate his ministry, Paul laid out his credentials in a letter to the Corinthians. In doing so, he reported an event that had happened 14 years earlier, when he was being harassed by a messenger (angel) of Satan. He had asked the Lord three times to get rid of it for him.
In II Cor. 12 (Kenneth S. Wuest Expanded New Testament) Paul writes:
“He said, My grace is enough for you, for power is moment by moment coming to its full energy and complete operation in the sphere of weakness. Therefore, most gladly will I the rather boast in my weaknesses in order that the power of the Christ [like the Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting] may take up its residence in me [working within me and giving me help].”
“Wherefore I am well content in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, and in circumstances under which I am subject to extreme pressure on behalf of Christ, for when I am weak, than I am filled with ability and power.”
He had been asking God to do something God had enabled him to do for himself.
Was Paul weak? He said that he was, in his own strength. Yet in this weak condition, he was able to do “miracles of a startling, imposing, amazement-wakening character, and miracles that demonstrate God’s power.” (II Cor. 12:12, Wuest)
Phil. 4:13 (Amplified): “I (Paul) have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me – I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me [that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”
Rom. 15:19: “… by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of His Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” (NIV)
Paul said he had preached the word fully, and the Lord confirmed the word preached by miracles, just as He had done for the disciples.
Mark 16:20: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (NIV)
Here is some of what Paul and Christ’s sufficient grace accomplished, in his weak condition:
Acts 13:11 – caused the sorcerer to go blind
Acts 14:3 – miraculous signs and wonders – the Lord confirmed message by miracles
Acts 14:9-10 – healed the man lame from birth
Acts 14:19-20 – he himself was raised from the dead (presumably) after being stoned
Acts 15:12 – miracles, signs and wonders
Acts 16:19 – cast demon out of slave girl
Acts 19:11-12 – extraordinary miracles, healing by handkerchiefs and aprons, evil spirits cast out
Acts 20:9-12 – raised young man from the dead
Acts 28:8-9 – on Malta, father of Publius healed, then all the rest of the sick on the island healed
Romans 15:19 – signs and miracles through the power of the Spirit
Saw many, many people come to faith in Christ.
All this, while being opposed by many kinds of trouble:
II Cor. 11:23-29:
Worked much harder than anyone else
In prison more frequently
Flogged more severely
40 lashes minus 1, five times received from the Jews
Beaten with rods three times
Shipwrecked three times, a night and a day in the open sea
Danger from rivers
Danger from bandits
Danger from his own countrymen
Danger from Gentiles
Danger in the city, country and sea
Danger from false brethren
Labored and toiled without sleep
Hungry and thirsty, often without food
Cold and naked
Concern for the churches daily
Temptation to sin
Paul believed – and obeyed – what Jesus had said:
John 14:11-12: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Remember Mark 16:20? “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (NIV)
The Lord can’t confirm what isn’t being preached.