I’ve been enjoying listening to Bryan Chapell’s sermons online. His sermons are very concise (about 20-25 minutes long) which is a plus because as a busy and very pregnant mother, I can only handle a little nugget at a time. He is a gifted speaker whose sermons are Christ-centered, clear, and inspirational. His sermon “When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong: Facing Our Weaknesses in Order to Find Strength” ministered to me tremendously.
In this sermon, he speaks from 2 Corinthians 11, 12 about the Apostle Paul boasting in his own weakness as he faces the “super apostles” displaying their credentials. Chapell points out that Paul’s premise is simple: if we are to be strong, we are to be weak. I usually do a double take when I see this statement because it is an odd statement. The natural inclination is to try to be stronger, not weaker, if our goal is to be strong. Yet, Paul urges his listeners to be weak.
I have never felt weaker than since I became a mother. God blessed us with two wonderful sons, and to be honest, they are not easy. I admit that I sometimes envy those with children who are more mellow than mine. I struggle day-to-day in how to channel their exuberant energy level. Then the Lord saw fit to move us to adopt a baby girl from China. In order to fit into this active family, God gave us a little girl whose active personality matches that of the boys. I’m outnumbered. Utterly defeated. Shortly thereafter, the Lord chose to bless us with another one who is currently in the womb (due in 8 weeks). I wonder what this baby will be like? With three very active children and a very tired pregnant body, my weakness is very apparent. I have nothing about which to boast. Many people, whether friends or strangers, are still in awe that we’re about to have our fourth child. Most think I have a high energy level and a great deal of patience. I’m even labelled as a “super mom,” one who can do it all. I shudder when I hear that label because I am not! Believe me, I am not. Again, I have nothing to boast about.
In Chapell’s sermon, he goes on to say how important it is to know our own weakness:
Do you know the extent of your weakness as Paul does? Did you know you’re as weak and sinful as the next guy apart from the grace of God? Do you know that? You have to. Because until you know how weak or bad you are (or could be) you cannot truly be good, or used of God. Until you see the extent of your weakness (even an apostle’s!) you don�t know the value of the lesson that must come your way.
We don’t just stop here. We don’t claim anything just by knowing our own weakness even though this is the first step.
Paul wants us to know our weakness so we will know grace. To know first of all that it’s sufficient in itself… You are sufficient only in His grace. You may have an easy time or hard. You may be very gifted or not. But it is not what we offer up to God that makes us sufficient.You are sufficient only if you rest in Him. He looks at you as bathed in the blood of His own Son, the character & life-giving blood of His Son and that is sufficient.Remember what he says at end of verse 9: “I will boast about my weakness so Christ’s power may rest in me.” The wonderful truth is we rest on Christ alone and His power rests on us. Are you relying on his strength? Ask yourself if you need to confess: if God is really your strength, why have you run past him so often when you try to serve Him? In all those times you use your gifts, talents and never stop to say to God, “Fill me.” We say, “Lord make me a mighty warrior, fortress, etc.” And that’s not wrong in itself, but that prayer must be preceded by, “Lord, make me know how weak or frail I am. Do in my life what you must. That I might know the process AND purpose of my weakness. That I might know your grace is sufficient, your strength perfected in my weakness. Only when I’m weak, then I am strong. Lord teach me, when I am weak, only then I am strong.”
Let us then be reminded that it is on Christ, and Christ alone that we lean and draw strength from. Our weakness displays the strength of God, and only through his grace can we find rest. Like I said, this is a short sermon, and if you have 20-25 minutes to spare, listen to this teaching and be encouraged.