The purpose of these devotions is to provide a resource of thought-provoking inspiration for youth leaders. The meditations are intended to open a group meeting for adults. Board meetings might take place online or in-person, weekly or monthly or quarterly. Regardless of specifics, an opening devotion serves to orient the group around the task at hand, emphasizing the importance of putting our minds on God first and foremost.
Strength in Weakness
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this (thorn in the flesh), 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.
-2 Corinthians 12:8-10
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
The Apostle Paul certainly cannot be accused of enjoying a life of ease and luxury. Among other things, his dedication to spreading the Gospel earned him beatings, stoning, and imprisonment. He also survived earthquake, shipwreck, and a nibble from a venomous snake, and endured a “thorn in the flesh” that persisted despite prayer pleas. Yet Paul continuously returned to a hope built on the Lord Jesus Christ. He recognized where true strength came from.
Anything we do in this life does not come from our own capability, but through the grace of God. As we read the letters of Paul, it’s obvious that he had a joy that was rooted deep in his savior. Paul spoke frequently of contentment. This contentment can be understood as a sense of peace that transcends circumstantial happiness. We, too, can recognize that God is still in control and at work in our lives when suffering and defeat seem near and challenges appear insurmountable.
Sometimes we must be brought low in order to lift Jesus high. And when success comes along, it is through the power of God. Luther extensively discussed the importance of relying on God’s grace rather than our own merits and strength. Nothing we can do occurs through our power. Through the gift of faith, we recognize our utter dependence on God. This, not our own success or luxury, should be our focus and what we communicate with those we serve and teach.
Questions to Consider:
- When do you feel weak? What challenges frustrate you?
- Practically speaking, how can we lean on God in times of hardship?
- What do you think Paul means about “boasting in weakness”?
- What brings you a sense of contentment? How can you discover Paul’s “secret” described in Philippians 4?
Dear Gracious God,
We recognize that we cannot save ourselves and do not have strength in our own power. Yet in our weakness, you lift us up. Please help us to rely on you and to thank and praise you for all that we have. Grant us peace and contentment despite circumstances. Remind us of who we are in Christ. Thank you, Lord, for your care and for your power. In Jesus name, Amen.