13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. (Galatians 4:13-14 NIV)
Who would have ever thought that out of Paul’s illness a mutual blessing would come about? Evidently, Paul’s illness meant that he had to stay in Galatia longer than he had planned. Instead of pulling the shades and curling up in bed, Paul used his extended stay to share the Good News of Jesus with even more people.
This story from Paul’s life really challenges me to take a long, hard look at myself. There are days when I am up and ready to go. Days when I can’t wait to see what God has store for me. Then there are those other days. Days when I don’t feel so well. Day when I just don’t want to. Days when I would rather clear my schedule, pull the covers up over my head, and isolate myself from the world. This story has stirred a thought in my mind today. I need to consider that God may have, probably does have, something wonderful in store for me if I’m willing to trust Him to use me in my weakness.
We don’t know what Paul’s illness was all about, but we do know that he talked about some problem of his in another one of his letters. When Paul wrote to the folks in Corinth, he asked God three times to remove some “thorn in the flesh,” some challenge from his life. God’s answer to Paul was, 9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul wanted it removed. God wanted Paul to trust Him in his weakness. Paul didn’t pout. He didn’t write an article contemplating how a “good” God could allow suffering. He responded to God’s answer by saying,
9 …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)
It seems like most every time something isn’t “right” in my life, I want to use it as an excuse why I can’t do whatever it is that needs to be done. I want that to change. I want to be able to come to grips with the fact that it isn’t ever going to be “right,” but I can trust God to use me to bless His people, share the Good News with others, even though I am weak and broken. In my weakness He is able, more than able, to be my strength.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will convict me when I want to use my weakness as an excuse. Bombard me with the knowledge that I am not my strength, You are, and always will be.