Pastoral ministry has taught me that I am weak—very weak. This is a reality that daily shakes me to the core; a reality that I used to be ashamed of, making me fearful of being discovered for who I was. However, this weakness is not just found in my life as a pastor. God, in his goodness, has used pastoral ministry to shovel the dirt that I had thrown on myself in order to reveal weaknesses in every area of my life. Maybe you’re a pastor and maybe you’re not. Whatever the case may be, you are weak but may find yourself trying to bury it. Let me propose this to you: we are most holy when we are most weak.
The Apostle Paul knew this well as he had a weakness known as his ‘thorn’ in which he pleaded with the Lord to remove. What was the thorn? I am not convinced that what the nature of the thorn even matters, but what matters is that Paul had one; he had one just like I have one. Likely, beloved, you have one too. My thorn is struggling with my identity, one that makes me weak. More days than not I consider what it looks like to win the approval of others before I ever consider that Christ has already won the approval of God for me. This makes me weak because my temptation is to dance to the tune of human approval. The tension it creates is crippling which brings me to my knees. However, in those moments I find that I am most holy. How is this concluded? Doesn’t holiness mean to be set apart? Does it not mean to be not like the world? Does holiness not mean to be like God? I argue that it does! Yet in my pursuit of personal holiness I’ve come to the grips that I am not holy by my own pursuits and efforts; I can only be holy by the grace of God as I lose myself.
The apostle Paul hears from the Lord upon pleading with him to remove his thorn, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” found in 2 Corinthians 12. When we recognize our weaknesses before the Lord, God meets us and shows us that His grace is made perfect in our weakness. We then press in and find ourselves wrapped not in a holiness of our own, but in the holiness of the Holy One, Jesus.
Do you find yourself weak this day—far from the idea of holy? Brothers and sisters, consider that is where you are to be found most holy. The grace of God meets my identity crisis and reminds me that I am approved by God in Christ, and the approval of man I can never earn. For the demands of humanity constantly change, but the demands of God do not. God demands us to be holy, that which we in ourselves are not, yet in our weakness he makes us holy by the blood Jesus. When you feel your weakness, when the thorn presses in and cuts deep, don’t cover it up – see it as God uncovering the dirt you’ve buried yourself under. In your weakness boast in the grace of what God is showing you and boast in the fact that while you certainly cannot, he can. Will God ever remove my ongoing identity crisis? I don’t know. I pray he does. But if he does not, I shall go on boasting in my weakness for that is when I am most holy and where his grace is perfected.