“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Like most people, John (1) was a combination of strengths and weaknesses. As a spiritual leader, John was particularly gifted in those areas of ministry that required empathy, compassion, and understanding. He offered sound Biblical counsel and cared deeply about others on an emotional level. If there was a family emergency, hospital admittance, or troublesome medical diagnosis, John immediately responded to the call to offer spiritual and emotional support without hesitation.
Nevertheless, John’s ministry responsibilities often required him to spend much of his time in areas that did not make use of those strengths. John recognized his limitations in those areas and as his ministry failed to progress in the manner he hoped, he sometimes questioned why God called him to a work that often did not make use of his attributes.
Much like this fictitious spiritual leader, there may be some who toil away at a ministry responsibility or secular job that seems ill-suited to their abilities. While it is difficult to be tasked with the responsibility to perform a duty for which we feel unprepared, 2 Corinthians 2:10 provides us with some important encouragement.
You see, God may sometimes place us in an arena where we possess little natural talent in order to demonstrate His capabilities, build our faith, or teach us something important about ourselves. One commentator summarizes this idea in a manner that is well worth our consideration…
“Our world prizes strength—the physical strength of athletes, the financial strength of companies, the political strength of office-holders, and the military strength of armies. But Paul put a new twist on the notion of strength: weakness can make a person strong (2 Cor. 12:7–10).
Most of us would have no problem with God using our natural areas of strength, such as speaking, organizing, managing, or selling. But suppose He chose instead to use us in areas where we are weak? Moses claimed to be a poor speaker (Ex. 4:10), yet God used him as His spokesman on Israel’s behalf. Peter tended to be impulsive and even hot-headed, yet God used him as one of the chief architects of the early church. Weakness has a way of making us rely on God far more than our strengths do.” (2)
(1) John is a fictitious person based on the author’s experience.
(2) Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1511). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.