I'm the type of guy who normally just toughs it out, but today I was reminded of my own weakness.
I got sick after church today. I wasn't feeling great this morning after wearing myself out yesterday cleaning, vacuuming, and washing our carpets until about midnight, and then I didn't eat much of a breakfast. So it wasn't too surprising when I started getting a headache after church. That headache turned into a migraine at the restaurant where my family went for lunch and I had to excuse myself to go curl up into a fetal position in our van. I'll spare you the gory details of what happened next, but let's just say that I was in no shape to drive myself home (nor were my clothes very clean anymore). :-\
Fortunately, God has blessed me with a wonderful wife who is living out her vow to love me "in sickness and in health." She took care of the kids, paid the bill at the restaurant, helped clean me up, held my arm as I hobbled around, and drove me home. As I was sitting in the passenger's seat with my head in my hands and my eyes closed, this verse came to mind: "When I am weak, then I am strong." I had no strength on my own at that moment to operate a vehicle ... no strength to get myself home and get to bed where I belonged ... and yet there I was, cruising down the interstate and on my home. Why? Because in my weakness God provided His strength.
In the passage leading up to that verse, Paul says this:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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. (1 Cor. 12:7-10, ESV)
I don't know what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was, nor do I know exactly how God provided for Paul in spite of that weakness. But the principle in that verse is that God provides for us in our weakness. He brings glory to Himself by putting His sons and daughters into situations where they must rely on His strength ... and then He comes through for them.
Today God's strength was made perfect in my weakness when my wife loved me, stood by me, and took care of me when I was sick and filthy and weak. I was carried on eagle's wings (Exod. 19:4; Isa. 40:31) when I had no strength of my own. (OK, maybe it wasn't actually eagle's wings, but "Toyota minivan" doesn't have the same ring to it.) Sometimes our "thorns in the flesh" can make us so weak that we can't do anything for ourselves. It is those times when God carries us like a good shepherd carrying his sheep.
Even in less extreme circumstances, God provides His strength when He puts us in situations where we can't change things on our own. When we find ourselves there, we just need to pray and trust. We serve a merciful and compassionate God who loves us in practical ways. Frequently in the Bible, we see God placing His people in impossible circumstances, just so He can come through for them in marvelous ways.
When I am weak, then I am strong.