Why Does God Let Me Stay So Weak?



I hate weakness. I don’t like being weak. And I have so many weaknesses as a husband, father, and pastor. I want to have it all together. I want to be a strong leader, a loving husband, a wise father. But I’m so weak. I fail so often. Why?

Why does God let us stay so weak at times? Why is it so hard to put sin to death? Why do we struggle and fail so much? Why are we so often weak in our faith?

The apostle Paul knew about weakness. And he didn’t like weakness in himself – at least not initially. Paul had some kind of “thorn given him in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” that harassed him. Some believe the thorn was Jewish persecution; many believe it was a physical ailment or disease that affected his eyesight. They believe this since he dictated his letters, and he said it was because of a bodily ailment” he had originally preached the gospel to the Galatians (GA 4.13). He also said the Galatians would have plucked out their eyes and given them to him (4:15). Also when he was rebuked for calling the high priest a white-washed wall Paul said he didn’t know he was the high priest. Yet Paul was a Pharisee who would certainly have recognized the high priest if he could see him.

Whatever his affliction, Paul struggled with it. He didn’t like being weak. He sought the Lord on three occasions about it and finally God gave him some insight into why he didn’t remove Paul’s weakness.

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. 2 CO 12:7-10

As Paul sought the Lord about his thorn God showed him some things.

First, it was to keep Paul from conceit and pride, having received great revelations from God. Knowledge puffs up. When we have strong gifts or incredible talent it’s easy to become proud. When we have some serious success it’s easy to forget that all our gifts and success is from God. How many gifted teachers of God’s word have succumbed to pride and fallen into sin. How easy it is for us to judge others out of our strengths. How easy it is for parents whose children are doing well to look down on those whose children are struggling or rebelling. So weakness humbles us. Failure keeps us from becoming conceited. And since pride comes before a fall, weakness can keep us from stumbling.

The second reason God let Paul stay weak was to make Paul rely on Christ’s grace – “My grace is sufficient for you.” Pride leads us to rely on ourselves; weakness drives us to our knees to seek God’s grace. Strength can lead to self-sufficiency. Weakness makes us depend on Christ. Weakness sends us to the throne of grace for mercy and grace in time of need.

The third reason God kept Paul weak was to reveal Christ’s power through him – “my power is made perfect in weakness.” The more we realize our weakness, then when anything good happens through us, we know it is the power of Christ, not us. When we have tried again and again to conquer a sin, become aware of our own weakness in the battle, then finally conquer it, we know it was by Jesus’ grace and power. Then Jesus receives the glory. We won’t think we did it by our own willpower but by Jesus grace.

Paul got to the place where he was content with weakness! He could be content with insults, hardships and persecutions. And even with calamities! Because he knew that all these things would reveal how weak he was, and the power of Christ would shine through him.

To be content with weakness doesn’t mean we give up trying to put sin to death. It doesn’t mean we quit trying to bear fruit for God. But it means that when we fail, when we realize how weak we are, we won’t despair but turn to Christ and ask him to give us HIS power. HIS strength. HIS wisdom. HIS grace.

Do you feel weak? Confess your weakness to Jesus. (He won’t be surprised). Confess your sins. Confess your failures as mom or dad. Tell him how much you need his grace not to get angry. Tell him you need his grace to love that brother who it’s so hard to love. Ask him to give you the grace to rejoice in your pain and be content in your trial.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 PE 5:6-7


  • Elaine says:

    Thank you for this post, Mark. We feel weak as newborn kittens most of the time, but, we serve a mighty God, who is also a gracious and loving Father, who is also king of kings and lord of lords. We have great hope.

  • AMEN Elaine ! We are weak but he is STRONG!

  • Joey E says:

    This is exactly what I needed to here today. I woke up this morning with 2 big questions / burdens, and I have no answers. Thanks for this.

  • erin says:

    This was just what I needed to read today. I am so weak and have felt so weary, but thank you for reminding me that it is when I am weak that God’s power and grace can be made strong in my life.

  • Ann Kingsley says:

    Hi Mark. Thank you for your blog. I was wondering if you have read J.I. Packer’s book, Weakness is the Way. That’s the theme of the entire small book. His insights as an 88-year-old are wonderful. I highly recommend it to you!

  • Little Sheep says:

    Thank you for writing & sharing this article. God could have taken away all our sins after salvation, but instead He let our sin nature remain so the battle would continue.
    It would seem sinlessness in us wasn’t God’s highest priority but weakness is .. for God seems to get more glory from our weakness than us being sinless.
    It takes real work to embrace weakness because the world is telling us everyday that it’s our enemy. We’re told that health, strength & long life are the ultimate goal!
    May God help each one of us to live weak!

  • JR says:

    I’m pretty sure Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not sin — it was given to him to keep him from sin. I think some people might be conflating sin and weakness.

  • Matt says:

    Great word! I believe Paul’s thorn was a temptation, even one he may have given in to from time to time. “a messenger of Satan to harass me” sounds far more like a temptation than a physical ailment. Certainly Paul did have some kind of trouble with his eyes. Does that mean it was the only problem he faced in his life? Jesus was tempted in every way and all of us are tempted in one way or another on a daily basis, so why not Paul? I think we prefer to see Paul as somehow perfect and above having to deal with sin, but he wasn’t. Paul makes it clear that he struggled with sin at the end of Romans 7.
    The great part of the passage is that it shows us how Paul dealt with problems. He simply asked for God’s help. He didn’t lay out steps telling how he struggled or strove. He simply put his problems in God’s hands. I believe he mentioned this specific incident because it was an anomaly. I beleive that Paul was used to seeing God take thorns away on a regular basis when he humbly asked for help. But this time was different and he wanted to share it. We are weak, but He is strong!

  • JR says:

    A poor theology of sin might lead you to think so. There is no way God would want Paul or any of us to boast in sin or to let it overpower us.

  • Matt says:

    A poor theology of perfection might lead you to think so. If what you say is true, why would God allow Paul or any of us to sin? If you’ll read the end of Romans 7 which I mentioned above, you’ll see his confessions. Why would Jesus stand by and watch Peter commit the ultimate sin of denying Christ, not just once but three times? Jesus didn’t try to convince Peter not to, he just told him exactly what he would do, commit sin and he did.

    Heb 10:14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. NLT

    It is God’s will that those who trust in Christ are made completely perfect in His sight while at the very same time are in the process of being made holy. The fact that it is a process dictates that there must be sin involved. Otherwise only the former would be true and we would be completely perfect. I haven’t met that Christian yet, have you?

    The fact that we can’t obey the law is the very reason we call on Christ and see our need for Him. Without sin as a reminder, we would certainly try to become gods of our own, just as Satan did before us. We inherited that insatiable desire. Once sin entered the world, it became a tool to ever point mankind to our need for Christ.

    I suspect the underlying problem you have with what I wrote is that unlike Paul, who depended on Christ to make him holy, you prefer to take that role on yourself. So if you are not being perfected by trusting in and calling on Christ as in Paul’s example, then why did Christ have to die?

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