Still trying to drill down into this. This seems so central to me for so many reasons especially now.
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
These two verses are clues to the puzzle for me as well:
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10 ESV)
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." (Exodus 14:14 ESV)
Paul is a man who knew the life of the elite well. He had things going for him in a big way. He was climbing up the ladder of success and had things made. He was young, well respected and had a fiery passion. Everything got flipped over on its head for Paul. He had come from near celebrity status and he was called to give it all up. He became despised by the one group who once held him in such esteem and was feared by the group he once persecuted and now wanted to become apart of. There was a season where it probably felt as if he belonged nowhere.
Paul had a very unique perspective. He had been persecuting Christians out of a zealousness for The Lord and yet his pride had blinded him. Paul knew you could chase after The Lord with much passion and zeal and still be completely dead wrong. Paul didn't use that knowledge to beat himself up I believe Paul used that knowledge to keep him humble. I can follow whole heartedly after God but if I'm operating out of my strength pride can take root and lead me to support evil in ways I never dared to dream.
In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the special revelations he was given by The Lord. He knew immediately where this special knowledge could lead him to. He already had experience of being a biblical scholar and yet being so off base that he persecuted the very one he desired to worship. Paul is wise in that he wants to learn from his mistakes. He's been given special revelations by God and he immediately knows pride could be his worst enemy.
God in his graciousness has not made Paul's mission to spread the gospel easy. He is persecuted by everyone at times. He runs into troubles I can't even fathom and he is afflicted by a thorn in his flesh that he has begged The Lord to take away. In his desperation for God to alleviate his difficult situation he gains perspective that everyone walking with Jesus should fully embrace.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I think these words feel good to those of us who are in the middle of suffering or weakness but I'm not sure people always walk away with what is intended by it. This is the anthem of doing away with self protection. This is the reminder of how incredibly powerless and bankrupt we truly are. This is the battle cry of laying down ones weapons even in the middle of a battle and trusting The Lord to fight for you.
I am so not wired this way. I desire nothing more that to self protect, to fight for what I think I deserve, and to be self reliant. I am a self reliant beast and it will be my down fall and demise if I'm not willing to die to self and lay that down.
I've gotten a good whiff of pride lately and I don't want to have anything to do with it. I keep battling with wanting to fight my own battles and I keep screwing it up. I am in a great place when I am so surrendered that I realize I can't fight my own battles nor should I. I am in a good place when self protection and self reliance decreases.
The ugly truth about me is that I want to serve God but I don't really want to need God. I'd much rather do things perfectly. I'd much rather not have to struggle. I'd much rather rely on my own strength, operate out of my own power and be on my own plan. I get angry when I can't be on my own plan and be my own god and worship myself.
Jesus crush me. If not another thing goes right in this life ever again may I boast that you are the very thing that sustains me day by day. I want to worship myself Lord. It pains me to even write that but it's true. I want to glory in myself first and you second and that is so messed up. I want to be able to do life on my own terms, by my own plans and out of my own strength. Give me the perspective Paul had. He was so rooted and grounded in who he was in you that the hardships could come, persecution, misunderstanding, insults, ect and yet he took delight in knowing that the more he had to cling to you the better it was for him. Help me to turn to you first over anything or anyone. May prayer and thanksgiving be the first things out of my mouth. Help me to rejoice in you always whether that be in plenty or in want. Crush the arrogance and pride that I harbor in my heart. May I not take joy and satisfaction out of my self reliance but rather my reliance on you.