“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” 2 Corinthians 12:9
What a perspective! Paul sees himself in the midst of this disruptive moment and says, “I’m not the same man that I used to be. I’ve suffered, and I’ve felt my share of pain, yet now I find within myself an inner depth, a spiritual dynamic I’ve never known before. I’ve entered into the deepest mystery of life—the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. And now that I see the meaning of it all, I wouldn’t trade a moment of misery for pure gold. In the end, you see, our pain offers us a far greater wealth. I’ve had a thorn in my flesh, and I claim it as a badge of honor.”
So the apostle Paul has told us all about his weakness. Was he simply a passive person? Don’t even consider it! The briefest study of his life demonstrates that there was nothing passive about Paul. This was the man who had scoured the countryside in search of Christians to intimidate. This was the man who had successfully debated the apostles on the question of Gentile salvation. This was the man who had faced stoning and beatings for the sake of the gospel.
Paul chose the most hostile settings in which to preach the gospel and plant churches. He scattered seeds of the gospel throughout Asia Minor and along the Aegean Sea. As the seeds grew, he trained the first pastors and elders in all the new churches. And then, in his spare time, he wrote half the New Testament!
So please don’t call him “passive.” Paul was a mover and a shaker, a human dynamo. How, then, do we reconcile that with his claim to weakness? How can a man be both weak and strong?
The answer lies in the phrase, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” That statement bears careful scrutiny. Listen well to Charles Stanley’s eloquent paraphrase: “When I, Paul, in and of my own strength, am weak, then I, Paul, relying on the power of Christ in me, become strong, capable of whatever the Lord requires of me, full of energy and zeal to accomplish His will.”