For the first time I can remember in a devotional time, I sat completely stunned. I covered my eyes as though a literal brightness had blinded me. After a difficult turn of events in our family, that morning I had turned to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NIV)
I was desperate to understand this passage practically. What did it mean to boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me? What did it even mean that His power could “rest on me”?
Trying to get as close as I could to the meaning of the words, I began looking them up in my Bible apps. I saw that “boast” (in New Testament Greek, kauchaomai) could also be translated “rejoice.”¹ Paul uses the same word in Romans 5:2-3: “. . . we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings. . .” What a challenge!
But it was the word Paul used for “rest upon” that caught me off guard. It is a translation of episkenoo, “to tent upon, or figuratively, abide.”² Episkenoo is a compound word formed from epi, meaning “on” and skenoo, “to tent or encamp, i.e. (figuratively) to occupy (as a mansion) or (specially), to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion): – dwell.”³
I read The Expositor’s Greek Testament, which explains:
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses (sc., rather than that they should be removed) that the power of Christ may rest upon me, literally, ‘may spread a tabernacle over me.’ The image is that of the Shekinah or skene, the glory which was the symbol of the divine presence in the Holy of Holies, descending upon the faithful.”⁴
It was at this point I felt I could not move. The brightness of this promise was blinding. Could it be that when I honor the Lord by exulting in my weaknesses and tribulations, a trial can be a place where heaven comes down? That His Shekinah power and glory could be revealed in me when I rejoice in my trials by faith?
The joy ahead
The image of Christ’s tabernacle over me reminded me of Boaz, spreading his blanket over the widowed Ruth lying at his feet (Ruth 3). It is the tender, comforting protection and provision of my Kinsman-Redeemer. I never need want or wander again. I’m home.
Living in this heavenly reality allows Christ to tabernacle over me. In this holy and intimate place, I know I am loved. His plan will be worth the wait.
Charles Spurgeon described 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 this way:
The passage before us means just this: “I glory in infirmities that the power of Christ may tabernacle in me.” Just as the Shekinah light dwelt in the tent in the wilderness beneath the rough badger skins, so I glory to be a poor frail tent and tabernacle, that the Shekinah of Jesus Christ may dwell in my soul.⁵
Yes. My Lord Jesus will show the brilliance of His glory and the limitlessness of His power in me and through me, when I do the unthinkable and rejoice in the trials He allows in my life. His character makes this possible. I’m trying it out, and the joy I’ve experienced brings a smile as I write. He is utterly faithful to His promises.
What a gift it is to mine the truth of God’s Word. His words are more precious than gold. They are life.
If you are facing a trial, would you pray with me?
“Lord, I’m not only thanking You for this trial _________________ that You’re allowing in my life, I’m rejoicing in it. I am at rest, because You are perfectly good and perfectly loving. I praise You that Your power and glory will comfort and shine in me as You tabernacle over me. I’m looking forward to what You will do. Amen.”
¹Blue Letter Bible app, Strong’s Definitions. ²Laridian Bible app, New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance Greek Dictionary. ³Blue Letter Bible. ⁴The Expositor’s Greek Testament: The Second Epistle to the Corinthians by the Very Rev. J.H. Bernard, D.D., Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, 1900. ⁵https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/strengthening-words-from-the-saviours-lips#flipbook/
If you haven’t discovered life in Christ, don’t hesitate to check it out. Life is too short to miss His love and perfect plan for you. Read About “The Nearness of God” or see everyperson.com for more information. You can also read my story of coming to faith in Christ: How My Song Began.