Friday, July 9, 2010

In Weakness, Strength

Recently I completed years of service as the leader of my LDS congregation. One of the themes of my ministry was the consecration of our weaknesses. I found that as people were candid about their needs (of whatever sort), it made possible the strengthening and unity of the whole since it gave occasion for people to serve. I've always loved the candor and spiritual passion of St. Paul and the admirable way in which he owned up to his shortcomings. When writing to the Corinthians, he confessed to some troubling personal weakness, a "thorn in the flesh." And this passage has become, of course, one of the greatest New Testament lessons about God's grace.


Here is my imitation of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, followed by the original verses from the King James Version.

In Weakness, Strength
by Gideon Burton
after St. Paul

Unmeasured comes the flow of revelation.
(A thorn was given to me in the flesh;
it buffets me, deflates me as it crests)
Unmeasured comes this harsh and thick temptation.
Three times I've asked Him, pleading on my knees,
that this could pass, that I escape its grasp.
"My grace," He answered as my hands unclasped,
"It is enough for thee, enough for thee.
In weakness is my strength made manifest."
And so, infirm, unwell, I know the Christ.
Reproached, cast down, distressed -- all one device
to toss me headlong to my Savior's breast.
     How weak I was in weakness, but no more;
     for I am strong when weak before my Lord.



2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

  7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

  8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

  9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Leia Speia

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