“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10b)
That doesn’t make much sense, humanly speaking, does it? Any athlete will tell you that strength comes from conditioning, and the goal is to get stronger and stronger so you can defeat your competitors and win. Seeing strength in weakness is not on the radar screen of one whose goal is to be strong.
So, what did Paul mean by this? After all, he was himself an athlete, so it’s not as if he didn’t get it. Actually, strength was his goal. He wanted strength in his life.
Think this through. A newborn baby is totally weak and helpless. It is only as strong as its parents. One lone soldier is weak when facing a platoon of enemy soldiers, until the rest of his own platoon shows up accompanied with a couple of tanks. A child being bullied by several other kids is weak until his brother, who is 10 years older, shows up; then, he’s strong.
Paul had some sort of debilitating physical problem he called his “thorn in the flesh.” He asked God to remove it, but God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Weakness thus gives opportunity for strength to rise to the surface so that its source can be revealed.
So then, strength is as good as its source and is derived from its source. If God, then, is that Source, then that is when we are actually at our strongest.