We'd rather admire Paul for his strength in trials. We want to applaud his fierce determination against vicious persecution. If the man were alive today, he would not tolerate our congratulations. "No, no, no. You don't understand. I'm not strong. The One who pours His power into me is strong. My strength comes from my weakness." That's no false modesty. Paul would tell us, "Strength comes from embracing weakness and boasting in that." It is that kind of response that brings divine strength and allows it to spring into action.
J. Oswald Sanders, in his book, Paul, the Leader, writes, "We form part of a generation that worships power — military, intellectual, economical, scientific. The concept of power is worked into the warp and woof of our daily living. Our entire world is divided into power blocs. Men everywhere are striving for power in various realms, often with questionable motivation."
The celebrated Scottish preacher, James Stewart, made a statement that is also challenging: "It is always upon human weakness and humiliation, not human strength and confidence, that God chooses to build His Kingdom; and that He can use us not merely in spite of our ordinariness and helplessness and disqualifying infirmities, but precisely because of them."
That's a thrilling discovery to make. It transforms our mental attitude toward our circumstances.
Let's pause long enough here to consider this principle in all seriousness. Your humiliations, your struggles, your battles, your weaknesses, your feelings of inadequacy, your helplessness, even your so-called "disqualifying" infirmities are precisely what make you effective. I would go further and say they represent thestuff of greatness. Once you are convinced of your own weakness and no longer trying to hide it, you embrace the power of Christ. Paul modelled that trait wonderfully, once he grasped the principle. His pride departed and in its place emerged a genuine humility that no amount of hardship could erase.