I find my strength in Jesus Christ in the midst of infirmities!
Today, as Paul did in the above Scripture, I am choosing to boast in my infirmities and God’s grace.
As the survivor of a tragic automobile accident, when a drunk driver hit the vehicle in which we were traveling, took the life of our first-born daughter, and left me permanently disabled, I have a long list of physical infirmities. The medical terms are complex, so I’ll let it suffice to say that I use a walker to get around the house, usually need a wheelchair when we go out, and have constant pain in my knees, neck, right shoulder, and upper and lower back.
I thank God for a supportive husband and adult daughter who do all they can to help me. But the weakness I live with severely limits what I’m able to do. Just five minutes of standing in the kitchen to prepare a simple meal or wash dishes leaves me in intense pain. And the only dusting I can do is what I can reach sitting down.
The Greek word translated infirmities in 2 Corinthians 12:9 can mean feebleness of health, but it also means weaknesses, an antonym of strength. And this Greek word can refer to two kinds of weaknesses – weaknesses of the body, and weaknesses of the soul. I am well acquainted with both kinds.
My infirmities definitely cause me to be physically weak – the physical activities that fill most people’s days are often impossible for me. In dealing with my physical weakness, I’ve learned to pace myself, work for five minutes, rest for twenty to thirty minutes, then do a little more work. And I’ve learned to ask for help when I need it.
My biggest battles with emotional weakness are discouragement, as my body continues to deteriorate, and my doctors have no idea why. And another struggle is to not give into feelings of being useless. I’m learning to take my thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ – not perfectly, but gaining progress. I also need to frequently remind myself that I may not be able to do the things I used to do, but God has graciously given me other things I can accomplish that aren’t affected by my physical limitations.
Fortunately, 2 Corinthians 12:9 gives the answer to both physical and soul weaknesses. Paul said that God’s strength is made perfect or complete in our weakness. How? When we learn to boast in our infirmities, the power of Christ rests on us. The Greek word for rest literally means to spread a tent or tabernacle over something or someone. When we boast in our infirmities, the power of Christ covers us completely. This means that I am not only covered with the robe of righteousness for salvation, I am also covered with the tent of Christ’s power in my weakness.
I’m so grateful that Christ’s power rests on me, spread over me like a tent, replacing my weakness with His strength. This is a strength I’m learning to stand on, regardless of how I feel. I try to do my part, by spending time daily in the Word of God and prayer, strengthening myself in the Lord. But I remain aware that I’m too weak to make it on my own. Christ’s grace and strength enables me to walk in a way that pleases the Heavenly Father.
While my present situation is not one I would have chosen, I’m learning to be content where He has me. Both contentment and joy are possible, even in the hard places, because they start with a choice. When I make a decision to keep my eyes on Christ’s sufficiency, not on my circumstances, then I’m walk contentfully and joyfully through even the most difficult days.
I believe that God still heals – I’ve seen miraculous healings in the lives of many people. But for some reason, to this point God has not chosen to heal me. So I’m learning to be content that in my weakness Christ is strong. His power covers me, enclosing me in His strength (in Greek dynamis, from which we get the word dynamite) and shielding me from the attacks of the enemy. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (Psalm 28:7 ESV)
The following poem by Annie Johnson Flint is a good reminder that all of our days won’t be easy. But thank God when we face a difficult circumstance, Jesus promises to completely cover us with His power and strength.