for the sake of Christ, then, i am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. for when i am weak, then i am strong. [2 corinthians 12:10]
contentment is a topic very close to my heart. it’s such a mystery to me because being content with anything is insanely countercultural, but the things God calls us to be content with are downright crazy from a worldly perspective.
just consider what the outside world and our inner monologue are both telling us every day: once you have enough money you’ll be content, once you have a spouse, a house, kids, more kids, more money, bigger house, more money, more travel, better job…and content. never. comes…does it?
maybe it’s possible that we’ve misinterpreted the word content, and God had it right all along. but, is it even realistic to be content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities? can we be content with those things in a genuine way? well, paul says definitively that he was. but that’s paul, right? i’m just a normal human.
well first, paul was also a normal human. however paul did experience Christ in glory in a way most of us other normal humans never have and never will this side of heaven. so we must trust that a heart transformed by the glory of God will be content in weaknesses. but we also must understand that you don’t have to be transported to the third heaven in order to be transformed by the glory of God.
and if you said “the Holy Spirit does this transforming work!” then you’d be right! not to spoil what’s coming soon, but 2 corinthians 3:16-18 explains this pretty clearly:
but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
perhaps paul could be content with weakness, persecution, and the like because he knew definitively that he was to inherit the glory and riches of Christ. and, could it be that we can tap into that same contentment if only we were assured in our inheritance too.
and if we really believed what Jesus told paul, that his power is made perfect in weakness, then maybe we really would feel Christ’s strength instead of striving for strength of our own and coming up empty every time.
so how, practically, can we feel content when we experience hardship, weakness, insult, persecution. it’s easy to say “just trust in Christ’s strength!” but what happens when the rubber meets the road?
in these moments we absolutely must fall back on the relationship we’ve built with Christ in word and in prayer. he promises to be there for us [deuteronomy 31:6; joshua 1:5; john 14:17-18], and, he promises that there is joy to come [hebrews 12:2]. in light of relationship with Christ and the joy of eternity, our weaknesses should seem light and momentary.
the problem is that we’re not often eternally minded. often we find ourselves looking at temporal problems with temporal solutions. let’s press into Christ together this week, clinging to his word like the lifeline that it is, and pursuing him in prayer as if we’re building the most important relationship imaginable. let’s allow these pursuits to shape our perspective on weakness and strength so we can echo the words of paul – “when i am weak, then i am strong.”
~ erin boettge