BOASTING IN ONE’S WEAKNESSES
Second Corinthians 12:9 says, "He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather boast in my weaknesses that the power of Christ might tabernacle over me." Have you seen this? Weakness is not something that one should lament over or weep about. Weakness is something that one should boast in. You may have said, "Thank and praise the Lord because He has made me overcome," but have you ever said, "Thank and praise the Lord because He has made me fail miserably"? You thank and praise the Lord for giving you patience, but have you thanked and praised Him for your impossible temper? Have you thanked and praised Him for your pride? Have you thanked and praised Him for your jealousy? Have you thanked and praised Him for your uncleanness within and for your sin? If you have these problems, you should thank and praise the Lord for them. The first thing you must do is realize that you cannot make it. The second thing you should do is give up trying to make it. The third thing you should do is thank and praise God for not being able to make it. Hallelujah! I cannot make it. Hallelujah, I cannot make it!
Why did Paul say, "I will rather boast in my weaknesses"? The word "boast" is "glory" in the original language. Paul said that he considered his weaknesses to be his glory. This is because his weaknesses afforded Christ the opportunity to manifest His power and the opportunity for this power to tabernacle over him. Christ’s power cannot tabernacle over those who do not have any weaknesses. Only those with weaknesses can experience the tabernacling of Christ’s power. I would rather boast in my weaknesses because my weaknesses afford the Lord an opportunity to work in me. They afford the Lord an opportunity to manifest His power and to do something in me.
Brothers and sisters, do you have a sin which you cannot even confess? Do you have something which you cannot consecrate to God? Do you have a hindrance which you cannot remove? Is there any grace which you miss before the Lord? What are you going to do? Are you going to be sorrowful? If you are, you are a friend of the young man. He was sorrowful, and you are sorrowful as well. In the end, you will take the same way he did. He went away in sorrow, and you also will go away in sorrow. But you do not need to be sorrowful. The mistake of the young man did not lie in his realization of his impossibility but in his failure to realize God’s possibility. The mistake of the young man did not lie in his own inability but in his failure to apply God’s ability. It is not a sin to discover one’s own weakness, but it is a sin to refuse to believe in God’s strength. It is not a sin to be unable to give away one’s money, but it is a sin to refuse to believe that God can enable a person to give away his money. It is not a sin to have a bad temper, but it is a sin to refuse to believe that God can become one’s patience. It is not a sin to have an insurmountable sin, but it is a sin to refuse to believe that God can overcome such a sin for a person.
It is a glorious thing for a man to realize that he is helpless. The Lord’s purpose was to show the young man his helplessness. But when the young man returned home, he was not happy but sorrowful. Once the Lord shows you that you cannot make it, he will immediately show you that God can make it. The Lord does not show you your inability in order to discourage you. He shows you your inability in order for you to believe that He has an excellent opportunity to work in you. You should say, "Lord, I cannot make it and I do not even want to try to make it. Thank and praise You that I cannot make it." When you see that you cannot make it and that you are totally incapable of doing anything, and when you see that only the Lord can make it, you will thank and praise Him. You will realize that it is very natural to thank and praise the Lord. In the past, you might have grieved over your weakness or wept over your sins. But today, you can boast and praise. You can say, "Lord, I thank You because I cannot make it. I thank You because I have no way to overcome. I am not able. I rejoice because I am not able. I rejoice because I cannot do anything. Only You can do everything." If you do this, you will overcome.
THE LORD JESUS ONLY TAKING UP IMPOSSIBLE CASES
Once I met a brother in Chefoo who was going through the overcoming experience. This brother came from Manchuria and had been an army doctor for over ten years. Some brothers brought him to the Lord when he was in Manchuria. After he believed in the Lord, he moved to Chefoo, where he practiced medicine for over a year. When I was in Chefoo for a one-week conference, he was also there. During that conference I spoke on the subject of overcoming. One day he came to me in a desperate manner and asked if he could have a time with me the next morning. I told him that I was busy the next day and that it would be better if he came to see me that evening. He said that it was something very important and that there was not enough time that evening; he needed a long time to talk about his problem. Subsequently, we made an appointment for the next day. He reminded me that he would come at 9:00 a.m. and that I should not have any other appointments that morning so that I could give the whole morning to him because his problem was serious. He looked very much like a military man; he was tall, strong, and husky. We made an appointment to meet each other at Brother Lee’s house. Before 9:00 a.m. I arrived and found him already waiting for me there. Immediately after we sat down he said, "Brother Nee, I have a long story to tell!" He proceeded to tell me about his days in the army, how he came to know the Lord, and how he moved to Chefoo. He told me how he had overcome many sins and how he had stopped all the sins he used to commit when he was in the army. But there was one thing which he was unable to overcome. When I heard this, I was overjoyed again. Here was the "one thing" again. There is always one thing. No one can say that he does not have one thing. I asked, "What is this one thing?" He showed me his hands and told me that it was cigarettes. He said that he had overcome all kinds of serious and gross sins. But he could not overcome this one sin. He had been smoking for ten years and had been a Christian for three to four years. He came to Chefoo over a year ago. During those three to four years, he had tried seven to eight times every year to quit smoking but could not make it. He complained, saying, "It is a big suffering for me to smoke here. Chefoo is such a small place, and there are so many brothers and sisters. If they found out that I smoke, it would be disastrous. Therefore, I can only smoke in secret. I cannot smoke at home because my wife is also a sister in the Lord and constantly watches over me. If I smoke outside of my home, I am afraid that the brothers and sisters will see me. I cannot smoke openly and have to put my cigarettes inside of my pocket. If I am in the hospital where I work, I can smoke in my office. But I cannot smoke openly; I can only do it when I stand by the door. Whenever someone comes, I secretly try to put out the cigarette. I am afraid that the nurses in the hospital will find this out and tell the brothers and sisters about it. If my wife sees me smoking, there will be trouble. It is a big suffering for me to smoke. The brothers and sisters are all very warm, and they come to see us all the time. If they come while I am smoking, I have to put herb pills in my mouth so that they will not detect the smell of cigarettes on my breath. During the past year in Chefoo, I have suffered so much from cigarettes. I do not like to smoke, but I cannot quit, no matter how hard I try." He was sitting in front of me; his great and husky stature giving a perfect image of a soldier. But while he was speaking, he was crying like a little boy.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)