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By: Ann Swindell

Paul knew he needed to write a letter to the Corinthian church. He was worried they were being led astray from the purity of their first love to Christ! So-called “super apostles” had come to them, and the Corinthians were attracted to their prestige and accolades. Unfortunately, the Corinthians had started to listen to them—and they didn’t preach Christ in truth.

How to remind them of the treasure of Jesus?

How to prove to them that the message they’d heard from him was the true gospel?

He felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit in his heart, drawing his mind off of himself and to his King. If they want prestige and accolades, I’m going to have to boast to win them back, Paul thought. Then I will boast! He smiled. But I will boast of my weakness—and give all the glory to Jesus.

He let his mind wander back across the years he had been Christ’s bondservant. There had been so many beatings, too many to count. He’d hung in the space between life and death more than he could remember, pulled back to life in the body only because Jesus had more work for him to do.

Then there’d been the stoning, and that time he’d been lost at sea for a full day . . . Oh! One, two, three shipwrecks. He was often traveling, often in danger from thieves and false brothers, often hungry and cold, often short on sleep. But the thing that worried him above all else? His fear that the believers—like those at the church in Corinth—would fall away from Christ.

Yes. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. I’ll tell them about my physical agony, and the prayer for healing that the Lord refuses to answer for me.

But he would share the Lord’s words too, and then perhaps they’d remember that weakness in Christ was better than any so-called human accolades. The false apostles might offer them a smooth story . . . but they could not offer the truth of Jesus.

He started composing the letter in his head. But the Lord 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. . . .

I spend very little time boasting about my weaknesses. In fact, I usually try to ignore my weaknesses as much as possible. Take for example, my lack of sense of direction. I have absolutely zero sense of direction. In the years before maps were readily available on our phones, I had to write out painstakingly clear directions before making any new journey in the car. (Turn left at Main Street, drive past three roads, take a sharp right onto Washington.) Even now, if the map’s function on my phone isn’t connecting or is too slow to load, I panic. I often have no idea where I am.

Directions notwithstanding, I have plenty of other weaknesses. I’ve struggled with a hairpulling condition called trichotillomania for over twenty years. I have an inclination toward anxiety and worry that can leave me feeling overwhelmed with fear about what I can’t control.
I’m cranky toward those I love the most when I’m tired, and I worry too much about what others think of me. Left unchecked, some of these weaknesses become sin. But many of them are just realities that I deal with because of the nature and nurture of my life.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

We all have weaknesses that we deal with on a regular basis. Whether they’re physical weaknesses, emotional weaknesses, or relational ones, all of us know what it’s like to feel that we just can’t get past what holds us back. If only, we think. If only we could lose ten pounds. If only we could have more energy. If only we could stop reaching for the cigarette, or the chocolate bar, or the soda. If only our temper wasn’t so short. If only we were more athletic.

What’s so startling and beautiful about Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth is that he turns his weaknesses on their head. He was writing to a culture where power and prestige were highly valued (sound familiar?), and the believers there were being pulled astray from the true gospel to another message that didn’t uphold Christ. Paul was desperate to win them back, and he knew that he needed to speak into their culture. However, rather than share the many (many!) accolades he could have written about (see Philippians 3), Paul instead draws their attention to the countless ways that he has been battered and bruised for the gospel. He points them to the inverted truth of the kingdom of God: our weaknesses are gateways for the strength of Christ to shine.

Paul writes that “For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul is a man at peace with his struggles and pains.


Because Christ’s power is made perfect—his power is accomplished—in our weakness. Our weaknesses are the doorway for Christ’s power and glory to enter in and be displayed. Christ, rather than being dismayed by our weaknesses, draws himself close to us in our
struggles and trials.  He meets us in those places of powerlessness and frailty, and shows himself to be our strength and our portion.

When you butt up against your weaknesses and your heart feels anxious, remember Paul. In your weakness, Christ is strong. In your places of struggle, God’s grace is sufficient for you. When you feel like your peace is gone and your heart is failing, lean in to the Scripture:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and
my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

Be at peace. Though all you can feel is weakness, God is your strength. God is giving you grace, and God’s power is going to be displayed in your life.

*Excerpt from The Path to Peace by Ann Swindell provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2022.     Used by permission.(

*Click the following link for our Podcast interview with Ann:


Ann Swindell and her writing have been featured widely by The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, (in)courage, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and other publications. She is the owner of Writing with Grace and holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Seattle Pacific University. Ann lives in West Michigan with her pastor-husband and their children. Learn more at