Our Weakness, His Strength
by Adam Wittenberg
It’s not a popular thought—and it might surprise you—but God delights in weakness!
The Lord, the Father of Jesus Christ, enjoys our weak efforts to follow Him. No one can do life without God—and He created it this way.
Scripture calls us sheep—a weak and defenseless animal (Psalm 23)—and often refers to us as children because God is our Father in heaven, ready to give good gifts (James 1:17).
Why would the Lord use weakness to grow His saints? What does it look like to be weak before Him? And how can we be weak—especially in a world that tells us to be strong?
Following Paul’s Example
The Apostle Paul is a great example.
“Paul received the revelation that ‘godly weakness’ was the way to experience more of God’s power,” says Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer. “Jesus promised Paul that he would experience ‘strength made perfect’ if he embraced weakness. Paul was not referring to moral weakness, but weakness coming from godly choices.”
Here’s Paul’s journey:
“[Because of] the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [voluntary] weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my [voluntary] infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).
“Paul describes two types of godly weaknesses,” Mike says. “First, those which are voluntary, including prayer, fasting, living simply, and serving and blessing those who offend us (Matthew 6:1–20). Second, those which are involuntary, including his thorn in the flesh, persecution, and reproach. When Paul boasts of his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), he is referring to both the involuntary weakness of persecution and the voluntary weakness of the fasted lifestyle (2 Corinthians 11:23–28).”
The Lord knows that pride is one of the strongest temptations we face. It’s part of our fallen human nature. We gravitate toward it—even if we don’t want to.
But fasting and embracing weakness helps safeguard us against the pride that lurks below the surface. If we’re strong all the time, even in doing good, we might start thinking that our power is enough; or we might be tempted to take credit for the good things happening in our life or ministry. This leads to a fall.
Paul did the opposite. His ministry was full of fruit, but he boasted in his weaknesses because it allowed “the power of Christ [to] rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Like Paul, we can experience more of the God’s power in our ministry, heart, and Christian walk as we embrace weakness—or dependence—on God.
Looking to God Brings Freedom
We didn’t save ourselves (Ephesians 2:8–9), and we can’t make ourselves perfect either. That’s why Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, that he was “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” In the next chapter, he says “for it is God who works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13; emphasis added).
The Lord is faithful to finish what He started. Our role is to cooperate with Him, not refusing His grace by trying to do it all in our own strength (Hebrews 12:25). Too much striving will actually separate us from God.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Weakness is freedom. It’s how we enter the Christian faith—by admitting that we cannot save ourselves and accepting Christ’s death on the cross—and since salvation didn’t start with us but God, we shouldn’t try to complete the sanctification process without Him either.
Learning to be weak, and accepting our weakness, will open us up to receiving God’s power in new ways. Instead of boasting in our devotion—and being discouraged when we fail to love God and others the way we want to—we can turn to God’s grace, which is made perfect in our weakness. Where we fail, He’s strong!
The Lord already knows we can’t do it ourselves, and He’s ready to help all who call on Him—both at the point of salvation and daily in our Christian walk. This grace is for new believers and seasoned saints—even pastors, missionaries, and leaders in the Body of Christ never outgrow their need for the Lord’s constant strength.
Weakness is freedom—a good gift that God gives His saints. The Lord will strengthen us, but only as we rely on Him.
Learn more about partnering with God’s grace by watching Mike’s full message, The Revelation of Weakness: The Way to Greatness and Power.
How have you found God’s strength in your weakness?
A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.