I loved to play dodge ball when I was younger. There was just one part of the game that I did not like. The feeling I got when the game was almost over, and it was 5 on 1, 6 on 1. The part when you felt the other team ganging up on you. I thought to myself; just hold your breath it will be over in a minute!!! There was not a bone in my body that thought I had any chance of winning, let alone coming out of that game well. The best way to describe that moment was simply bad.
The apostle Paul knew this feeling well. During his ministry he was beat up, arrested, run out of town, and threatened with his life. In 2 Corinthians Paul is writing to a community backing him into a corner, ready to throw him out and Paul writes, “But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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) When we are weak, then God is strong. That sounds great, but to believe it is a whole other thing. Instead, many of us have another way of describing those times of struggle and hardship in life.
A good friend of mine Christopher Wolf says it this way in his book, Giving Faith A Second Chance, “Desperate. Empty. Trapped. Forsaken. These are words that describe the end-of-the-rope experience…because even worse at the end of the rope we just don’t know which way to reach.” When life beats us up, when we feel like we are at the end of our rope, we are left with Paul’s encouragement, when I am weak, God is strong.
We struggle because at the end of our rope we believe that we are alone. We have to take on our struggles out of our own strength. That there is no way we can overcome those odds. Paul reminds us that in that weakness we can lean into the strength of God. That in our very weakest moment God’s strength can overtake our struggles. It says it this way in Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” At the end of the day, life may not be easy, but we can take heart, knowing there is someone far bigger, far stronger, and far more powerful, who is looking out for us, so that when life seems to gang up on us, and back us into a corner, we can know that we don’t stand there alone.