“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me...For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT
He was eight years old the first time he was told "you can't play with only one hand" and kept off the field. At the age of four, doctors amputated his left hand due to Amniotic Band Syndrome. How many times was his strength questioned from then on? How many looks did he get from opposing players? How many coaches underestimated his ability? That is until they realized his weakness was really a hidden strength.
Shaquem Griffin wowed the world of sports when he bench pressed 225lbs with one hand and a prosthetic on his other for an astonishing 20 reps. As if that weren't enough he set off the fastest 40-yard dash time for a linebacker since 2003. Rather than using his amputated hand as a crutch, he instead focused on what he could accomplish through his weakness to be the best he could be.
As a father of two young boys, ages 5 and 6, I witnessed a similar instance recently. Our street hockey team's, and possibly the league's, best player broke his finger in between playoff games on the playground. As if that weren't enough he then got the flu. Yet a few days later, grinning at the cool factor of having a gnarly cast on his hand, he offered to play goalie one handed for our team. Using both of his feet, a bit of luck, and an offhanded stick, the young man boasted in his weakness to post a shutout and a win for our team.
In today's verse we see the Apostle Paul admitting his own weakness and how God has used it to strengthen him. Rather than bemoaning it and giving up he finds a way to press on in preaching and sharing the Gospel. Being thrown into jail sounds like a weakness right? Nope, God uses it to proclaim the Gospel to the jailers and others who see a miracle first hand. Stoned and left for dead by an angry mob is another weakness right? Nope, God uses Paul to go back to the same town to reiterate Christ's love and forgiveness. And on it goes, countless times in Paul's life and throughout scripture, God uses a perceived weakness as a strength and witness to His glory.
In Christ we see the ultimate example of weakness becoming strength. He submitted himself to be crucified on a cross for our sins yet in his resurrection he redeemed us for our sins. Even the disciples couldn't understand why the Son of God would allow himself to be weak but God can miraculously use our weakness for His strength and glory.
Ask anyone who has succeeded in either sports or life what their greatest accomplishment is and I can almost guarantee it will include overcoming some weakness. In high school I'm most proud of bouncing back the season after missing our final playoff game with mono. In college it was playing after suffering a torn labrum... "I am glad to boast in my weaknesses."
What weaknesses do you have that God might turn into strengths? Instead of seeing your past as a crutch, what if you saw it as a great testimony to God's redemption and amazing grace? What if you saw the hard relationship at work or in your family as a way to learn forgiveness and greater empathy? Begin to see your weaknesses as a way for God to strengthen you. Like Shaquem you may end up breaking through more barriers than you ever thought possible.