But he 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
There are times in our lives when we struggle along the journey as we follow Jesus. We often face wounds, and loss, and seemingly overwhelming challenges. And we cling to the promise “My grace is sufficient for you.” I’ve been in these situations more than once over the past couple of years, and for some reason I would get hung up on the phrase “my power is made perfect in weakness.”
It was incredibly encouraging, and yet the more I considered it, the less I was sure I even understood it at all.
“His power in me is perfect.” His power? This would be the God of the universe, who keeps both atoms and planets in motion. Also known as all-powerful and omnipotent. I try to imagine what one iota of that power in me might be like, and imagine myself swelling up like the Incredible Hulk and then exploding. And how is his power in me perfect? Perfect seems like the wrong word there, and I don’t understand it. His power – his strength – in me should be empowering, fortifying, sustaining, strengthening. Can strength be perfect?
My New Testament commentary says that “divine power finds its full scope and strength only in human weakness… The cross of Christ forms the supreme example of ‘power-in-weakness’.” The analogy of Christ on the cross helps – his supreme power over sin and death was fully realized in the moment of his greatest weakness.
But it is the dictionary that makes a clearer connection. Merriam-Webster defines “perfect” as “satisfying all requirements.” Dictionary.com defines it as “exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.” And I see that it is in my moments of fatigue and failure and indecision – my weakness – that the omnipotent power of the Creator is customized to exactly fit my specific situation. It’s perfect.