Webster defines a paradox as a statement that seems contradictory, absurd, inconsistent, or even untenable. It is hard to see it as truth and yet it has the very heart of truth as its basis. The Apostle Paul found the deepest secret of the spiritual life and shared it as a paradox with the believers at Corinth. It was that "when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

How was this so? Paul gives five areas where this was so:

  • In physical weakness (a "thorn in the flesh" continually tormented him)
  • In insults (verbal attacks or physical assaults)
  • In hardships (labored, toiled, gone without sleep, hungry, thirsty, gone without food, cold and naked) (2 Corinthians 11:27)
  • In persecutions ("in prison more frequently, flogged more severely, exposed to death again and again." 5 times received of Jews 39 lashes, 3 times beaten with rods, 1 time stoned, 3 times shipwrecked, 1 time spent a night and a day in the open sea.) (2 Corinthians 11:23-25)
  • In difficulties or calamities (in danger from rivers, bandits, Jews, Gentiles, in the city, in the country, at sea, and from false brothers) (2 Corinthians 11:26)

These things obviously weakened Paul and yet in the midst of his human suffering he felt a divine surge of energy. When he was weak in human resources he was strong in God's power. It took incredible pain to release him from his own selfish resources and connect him to dependence on his Heavenly Father.

And why would any person do this? Move forward through these extremes? He declares his reason at the beginning of 2 Corinthians 12:10, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight.." in all these seemingly bad things that have happened. It was not for him to bemoan his condition, to get sympathy from others or get a better offering for his expenses, it was for Christ who paid an even a greater price to reconcile us to God.
What are you struggling with today? Is your life yet a paradox of weakness physically, mentally, emotionally being made strong through spiritual power? Examine and see.


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