Thursday, March 17, 2011


[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ - 2 Corinthians 12:9
This passage has always been a struggle for me.  While I certainly appreciate the juxtaposition of power and weakness found here, I could not find a way to get this verse to make sense.  How is power made perfect in weakness?  Power and weakness are, quite literally, the opposite of each other.  I could find ways to see weakness perfecting the "humanness" of someone or making a person or organization easier to identify with.  Wherever I looked, however, I could not find weakness leading to power.  One of my friends and I were discussing this at a clergy retreat a couple months ago, and, because I seemed so drawn to this idea, he asked me to try looking at things in my own life instead of looking elsewhere.  That is when I finally found something.

For the past year or so, I have been meeting with a personal trainer fairly regularly.  The goal was not to end up looking like a body builder, but just to find a way to keep active and stay in shape.  As I have learned more about exercise and fitness, I have also learned about how weight lifting helps build muscle mass and definition.

The stress put on muscle tissues by lifting weights (or any activity that forces muscles to work harder than normal) causes those tissues to break down.  This effectively causes miniature tears in the muscle tissues.  This is part of the reason we feel sore and "weak" afterward.  After we are done putting our bodies through that kind of strenuous activity, the body goes to work repairing itself from the damage we have done.  If we allow enough time to pass before tearing up our muscle tissue again, the tissues actually build back up bigger and stronger than they were before in an effort to protect themselves from a similar assault.  In other words, if you make your muscles weaker through some sort of strenuous physical activity and allow them time to heal, they come back more powerful than they were before.  The power of your muscles are made perfect in their weakness.

So, what does all this have to do with God?  Instead of ignoring the aspects of our faith that do not make sense, I invite you to question them.  Do some studying with others and on your own.  Allow the walls that have been built up around your faith to come down.  This period of "doubting" may temporarily weaken your faith, but I am confident that, if you allow yourself time to rest between your faith workout sessions and don't pull any spiritual muscles, you will come through with a faith much stronger than when you started.


  1. I really like your analogy of questioning our faith to weak muscles becoming stronger, I hadn't heard it put that way before.

    I've always found that verse in 2 Cor to be reassuring, because it frees things from being dependent on my own strength and power (which isn't much) to being dependent on God's power (which is infinite).

  2. 12-Steppers couch this concept in yet another way. In my weakness (my particular compulsion) God's power shines forth as God does for me what I was never able to do for myself. Of course, I have to accept and admit my weakness, my own powerlessness, and then turn it over to that Power greater than myself. God's power is then made (shown) perfect in my weakness. raf

  3. Thank you both for your thoughts. I am always glad to have further insights on these topics.