• Will Spink
    Senior Pastor
  • Wyketa Shipman
    Executive Assistant
  • Ron Clegg
    Associate Pastor, Discipleship
  • Shannon Clark
    Administrative Assistant
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    Chief Musician
  • Peter Render
    Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families
  • Christine Betts
    Assistant Director, Youth/Families
  • Ty Commons
    Youth & Families Intern
  • Kim Delchamps
    Administrative Assistant
  • Derrick Harris
    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
  • Angela Sierk
    Director, Children's Ministry
  • Niña Banta Cash
    Director, Nursery
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    Director, Community Development
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Ask a Pastor with Derrick Harris

How is God’s power “made perfect” in our weaknesses, sufferings, and hardships as written in 2 Corinthians 12:9?

Excellent question! First, let’s take a look at this verse in context. When we do that, I hope that you’ll find the answer to your question.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10: “though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 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.”

The author of this passage is Paul the Apostle. You can find the story of His conversion in Acts 9:3-22. During his conversion, Christ spoke to Him audibly. Scales covered his eyes and he was temporarily blinded. When God opened Paul’s eyes, his heart was opened to the gospel as well. After that he confessed Christ. Well, in the verse that you mentioned, Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh. Nobody is really sure what the thorn was, but I think that it’s fair to say that it could have been trouble with his eyes that was a result of his conversion experience. Whatever it was, it was both painful and chronic.

Imagine if you had pain that was unexplainable and that no doctor could cure. That’s the sort of thing that Paul was going through most likely. This caused him to be even more dependent on Jesus. Also, imagine that you had actually heard Jesus talk to you and tell you how He was going to use you to change the world. *Side note: He does talk to you through Scripture and tell you this. *Back on track now: He literally and audibly spoke to Paul. I don’t know about you, but if that had happened to me, I might struggle with bragging about it, saying things like, “Hey, I’m a way better Christian than (fill in the blank). Jesus must love me more because He talks to me.”

For this reason, Paul saw his thorn as a gift. It reminded him of the fact that he was not the bees knees and that the only reason that he was anything was because of Jesus. All of this was a free gift that had nothing to do with him, his goodness, or his coolness but rather Jesus choosing him and forgiving him.

This is the same for you. Jesus has chosen to use you for His kingdom. This choice is not based on how good you are but on His love for you. He made it possible for you to know Him by saving you, forgiving your sins, and paying your debt. He wants you to remember that He’s in charge, not you. He wants you to be dependent on Him and not your coolness or gifts. Gifts are good, but they’re all from God.

When we remember this truth, it is really another way of saying, “Remember to be dependent on Jesus, not yourself.” That is what this 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 passage is teaching. When we are weak (i.e. not dependent on ourselves, not thinking that God owes us, realizing that all good things are from Him) then we are STRONG (strong in Jesus’s strength, strong in realizing that we need a Savior). This results in dependence on our Creator.

The world defines strength in things, money, power, and status. God defines strength as unrelenting trust in Him for all things. That allows us to see the things, money, power, and status as gifts from our King that are to be used in service to Him. This frees us from comparing ourselves to others and allows us to rest our reputations and lives in the loving hands of Jesus. Whenever we have trials, insults, and hardships, we can remember that Jesus is in us and will sustain us through those trials. When we are weak, we are forced to give up or run to Jesus. The crazy and awesome thing is that we should actually live this way ALL the time, not just when we go through tough times. (cue the music)

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong, Yes Jesus loves me…and YOU.

Derrick Harris is the Assistant Pastor of Shepherding and Young Families. He is also a Husband, Father, Musician, Accidental TV Show Creator, Auburn Tiger and Mexican Food Connoisseur!