When I Am Weak

God’s Counterintuitive Strength

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Cor. 12:9, NKJV) 

I was open in the end zone. I was always open. No one bothered to guard the ninth grade kid who was regularly picked last for anything athletic. 

But one day in the huddle the quarterback called my figurative number. He told me to go across the goal line and stand there. He would throw me the ball. 

We broke the huddle. The football was snapped. Kids started running all over the place. I found my way to the end zone. Sure enough, no one covered me. 

The quarterback looked left and the defenders went with his eyes. He then looked right and tossed the ball to where he had told me to stand. The ball flew through the air toward me. It fell right into my trembling hands, and stayed there. I had caught the ball and scored a touchdown. 

It seems a crafty tactic to use the weak and unwanted. Who would expect it? Yet God does just that, but for different reasons. 

God seems to delight in looking to flawed instruments to serve His purposes, those who readily protest their inadequacies. He did that with Moses. He did it with Jeremiah. Poor Timothy was fraught with fear. But God chose them, and He used them as instruments in His hand. 

Gideon is a prime example of God’s recruitment strategy. In the face of a massive army of Midianite marauders, God pared Gideon’s pool of fighting men from 22,000 to 10,000, and then to 300. God wanted to make it clear to Gideon, to his band of brothers, and to the readers of Scripture that victory is found not in our own might but in the Lord. 

Weakness seems to a qualification in God’s sight. Perhaps because He knows those aware of their weakness will be most useful in His hand. God not only resists the proud, the proud are prone to resist God, trusting in their own strength, relying on their own ingenuity. 

When God first called Gideon to lead the people of Israel against the Midianites, Gideon asked for a sign that God was actually calling him, even though God had made it apparent. Gideon laid out a lamb’s fleece on the ground and asked that God would form dew on the fleece but keep the ground dry. God did. Then God displayed patience when Gideon asked for reassurance by having dew form this time on the ground but not on the fleece. God did. 

God was responsive to Gideon’s weakness. God is also responsive to our prayers. He invites us to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. He urges us to bring our fears and insecurities and doubts to Him. 

But the account of Gideon adds another wrinkle. Prior to engagement with the enemy, God instructed Gideon to check out the camp of the Midianites. Gideon obeyed and snuck up with his servant Purah just in time to hear one of the soldiers of Midian relating a dream in which a loaf of bread steamrolled the army of Midian. Another soldier gave this interpretation: “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp” (Judges 7:14). 

Gideon hadn’t asked for assurance this time, but God knew His servant and shored him up. Gideon’s response was worship. He had made full eye contact with the God who was with him and for him. Gideon was ready for battle. 

That is the position of strength, embedding ourselves in the hand of our God. “I am weak. You are mighty. Hold me with Your powerful hand.”  God reminds us that His grace is sufficient. He is our strength. It is all of Him. We are weak in our weakness and we are weak in our own strength. Only in Christ can we do all things. Apart from Him we can do nothing. 

When Gideon first encountered God, God called him a “mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). Surely, God has a sense of humor. But, no, He was dead serious because He would teach Gideon the lesson that when he is weak then he is strong in the hand of the Lord. 

Digging Deeper

  1. In God’s wisdom how is strength found in weakness?
  2. How can you encourage others in their service for Christ? 

Lord Jesus, You know my stammering tongue and anxious heart. You know my unbelief and insecurities. Grant me grace to resist the pride of self-sufficiency and to humble myself that I might find my strength in You. 

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.

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