One upon a time, I used to be physically fit. I could do over 90 push-ups in two minutes. I could do over 120 sit-ups in two minutes. And I could run two miles in just over 10 minutes. Today I couldn’t run two miles in 10 days. My strength is not what it used to be. I no longer have the ability to do some things.
The very first time that the word strength is used in the entire Bible is in Genesis 4:12. The word is translated as vigor; force and might. However, according to Strong’s Bible Concordance, the most basic meaning of the word is “the ability to do something”.
There are myriad variations of the words used for “strength” in both the Old and New Testament. Nevertheless, this is going to be the baseline for our understanding; the ability to do something.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’.” 2 Cor. 12:9
What does it mean when God says that His strength is made perfect in (our) weakness?
In 2 Cor. 12:9 the word used for strength is “dumamis”. We commonly understand this to mean “miracle power”. It typically signifies that a higher power is now at work. Often when we think of dunamis or miracles, we focus on the act itself. For example, when a lame man is healed, it is a display of dunamis. The healing is the manifestation of the strength at work. We know something was done, because we see the result of it. However, even if we do not see a tangible manifestation, power was still at work. What is interesting about this word is its root. The root means “to be able”.
The words used for “made” and “perfect” are the same word. They suggest of full age; completeness; to accomplish;
The root of this word, “teleios” implies complete, brought to its end as it applies to labor or growth. Its root is the word “telos”, which means – to set out for a point or a goal; the conclusion of an act or state. It means the end or termination whether of time or purpose.
So then we see God’s power, ability and purpose at work in us.
So that the power of Christ may rest on us:
In Cor. 12:10 speaks of infirmities, persecutions, reproaches and needs. Paul says that because of Christ he is able to have “pleasure” in them. What does he mean when he says this? Here, the word pleasure means “to think well of”. The root of this word refers to a person’s subjective mental estimate or opinion about something. It is always subjective and not objective about the thing. So here Paul is making an assessment about his circumstances. He knows that in times of trouble that:
• A greater power is at work even if he sees no tangible manifestation
• That God’s purpose is being fulfilled even when he does not understand
• That God is bringing him to maturity despite his infirmities.
• That God is working things out for his good even if it does not feel good.
As a result he can face life’s difficulties with resolve and courage. Likewise when we are in trouble, we can call on Him. His power will sustain us and carry us through all of life’s challenges.
Remember, while I cannot run your race for you, I can run it with you. Stay encouraged and be blessed.