I heard a pastor talk on this passage on the radio the other day. It made me pull over, open up my Bible and do Bible study in a Travelodge parking lot. Here are some notes I jotted down. I love it when the Holy Spirit ministers to me, because He knows right what I need to hear and when I need to hear it.
“I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me.” (NCV) “But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).” (AMP)
God said “His strength/power” is shown perfect in weakness. It is then in our weaknesses—not sin, but the reality of our powerlessness—that the power of Christ is presently active for us and in us. When we accept and admit that we are weak is when we are strong, because that is when God’s power/strength is displayed and most effective (made perfect) in us.
The Apostle Paul uses some positive radical phrases to describe a reality that we typically see as a negative or as something unwanted. He says, “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities” (v. 9, NKJV) and “I take pleasure in infirmities... reproaches... needs... persecutions... distresses, for Christ sake” (v. 10, NKJV). If we want God’s power manifested in our life, then we must consistently remember and admit our weaknesses (powerlessness); for it’s only when we do this that in the bosom of our being we genuinely recognize that we need to call out for God’s power/strength in all areas of our life, and thus our weaknesses become the main avenue for our strength from Him.
“...for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).”