06 Jun Words of Grace – J.I. Packer on Weakness
J.I. Packer sums up the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” reasoning (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) this way:
“Paul models the discipleship, spiritual maturity, and growth in grace that all believers are called to pursue. When the world tells us, as it does, that everyone has a right to a life that is easy, comfortable, and relatively pain-free, a life that enables us to discover, display, and deploy all the strengths that are latent within us, the world twists the truth right out of shape. That was not the quality of life to which Christ’s calling led him, nor was it Paul’s calling, nor is it what we are called to in the twenty-first century. For all Christians, the likelihood is rather that as our discipleship continues, God will make us increasingly weakness-conscious and pain-aware, so that we may learn with Paul that when we are conscious of being weak, then – and only then – may we become truly strong in the Lord. And should we want it any other way?” (1)
In the reality of my own weakness, I find some real help in Paul’s words and in Packer’s commentary.
The realism of both men helps me. We can all tend toward longing for a fantasy life of strength and ease. This expectation makes the awareness of weakness more difficult to bear. Facing the reality that life, and the Christian life, includes weakness is an important step in trusting God.
The vision of both men helps me. We find in Paul and Packer a great vision of Christ. Christ knows our weakness and loves us still. Christ is purposeful with our weakness, using it to humble us and to take us deeper into fellowship with him. Christ will strengthen us in our weakness by his grace and thereby bring glory to himself through the display of his grace in us.
I hope you find in Christ the realism to face your weakness and the vision of Christ to live with your weakness.
(1) J.I. Packer, Weakness Is the Way, Crossway, pg. 53-54