A troubled Christian was in desperate need of counsel. His concerns were that he had no interest in reading Scripture, no delight in prayer, and no victory in his daily walk, regardless of how hard he tried. As he listened, the missionary Andrew Murray immediately recognized the problem. This Christian did not understand the principle of God’s strength being made perfect in man’s weakness.
Adam and Eve gave in to temptation, Cain was not able to conquer his anger, Sarah was unable to have children, Moses could not speak eloquently, and Paul suffered with a “thorn in the flesh.” We can see the weaknesses and inadequacies of mankind throughout history.
When Paul entreated God three times to remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh, God responded: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” When Paul realized that the power of God’s grace would be upon his weakness, he responded: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9).
Based on the principle of God’s strength being made perfect in man’s weakness, Andrew Murray counseled the man to completely accept his failure and his own inability to live righteously instead of striving against it. With this acceptance and confession, he could then sink down before God in utter helplessness. There he would learn that unless grace gave him deliverance and strength, he could never do any better than he had done before, but if he relied on the Lord for strength, that grace would indeed accomplish what he could not.
We know that the temptations Jesus faced on earth were just as real and strong as the ones we face, yet He did not succumb to them. (See Hebrews 4:15.) Why was this? Jesus recognized the inherent weakness of His humanity and wisely prepared through prayer for the great spiritual battles that would lead up to His crucifixion.
Peter, on the other hand, was oblivious to the spiritual warfare and temptations that he would soon encounter and drifted off into sleep while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. We know from Peter’s own words spoken previous to this night that he placed great confidence in his flesh, claiming that he would never deny Christ, even if all of the other disciples did. (See Matthew 26:33.) Peter’s failure to watch and to pray as Jesus had commanded caused him to be caught off guard when the temptations came, and he quickly gave in to them.
Paul learned the lesson that when I recognize I am weak in my own strength, then I can be strong. Peter learned that when I think that I am strong, then I prove that I am really weak.
Every morning I look forward to falling on my face before God, acknowledging my total weakness and inability to do anything for Him, and asking Him to give me the power of His grace, His wisdom for decisions, and the Holy Spirit to walk in victory. I strongly urge you to do this also! Prayer really does turn weakness into power!
Grace and Peace,