Limitations and Strengths

2 corinthians 9

“It is not until we are comfortable with and thankful for our limitations that God empowers us to be used in our strengths.” (Dick Brogden, Live Dead)

Fairly often, I’m comfortable with my limitations. Well, at last accepting of their existence. However, I probably spend an equal amount of time being frustrated by them. Mostly that means comparing myself to others, which only leads to increased dissatisfaction with my limitations as I desire to be someone I’m not and fail to appreciate the person God made.

Until just a few years ago, actually being thankful for my limitations never fell on my radar. Tolerance, a mix of apathy and acceptance, sure. But not thankfulness. Increasing frustration for certain when I thought about them too much.

The last few years have brought increasing comfort with my limitations as well as some measure of thankfulness much of the time. This came as I realized I’m not only protected by my limitations, but I’m directed by them too. You see, without my limitations, I’d more often that not head down the wrong path. I’d miss God’s will.

Take exercise for example. My goal now exists as general fitness and as good of health as possible. It used to be to project to others the image of an athlete, someone who could physically excel and be stronger, thinner and healthier than others. It was all about status and comparisons. My limitations? My body simply would not cooperate with the life of an athlete. I eventually saw those limitations as protection against a wrong focus, something that could easily have become an obsession.

So, I’m learning to be consistently both comfortable with and thankful for my limitations. I see their benefits more fully almost daily, and I realize the way God uses them to direct my focus toward His desires.

Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12, and he talks about how it was there to keep him from exalting himself. Before reaching what seems like a place of comfort and thankfulness with this thorn, Paul asked God three times to remove it. I can relate. I asked God way more than three times to remove my food allergies and sensitivities, another major area of limitation in my life.

Eventually, Paul reached the point of boasting in His weakness, realizing that it was in his limitations that the power of Christ dwelt in Him. His conclusion on the matter finally being…

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

The truth of grace’s sufficiency becomes evident through our limitations — our weaknesses — as we realize our utter helplessness for meaningful success in our own efforts. Even what we’re good at, we eventually realize, exists with limitations in place for our good.

When we reach a point of comfort with and acceptance of our limitations, we become more focused on being used in our strengths, our gifts and abilities, placed within us by our Creator. Placed there for divine reasons, our limitations direct us to and help keep us focused on to His glory.

6 thoughts on “Limitations and Strengths

  1. When I learned to reach the point of comfort with who i am and what my body was capable of I learned to enjoy what I am supposed to enjoy. I love cycling but there is not way under God's green earth I will ever…ever…be good enough to be a top-notch cyclist. I am too old. I weigh about 210 or so and no cyclist weighs the much. I have physical limitations (knee issues) which creep in. So being satisfied with where I am and who I am was absolutely essential. I'm okay with that.
    My recent post Calling

  2. I love this. Over the last few years age has added several limitations and I struggle with them. I try to be grateful for what I CAN do and not focus on what I can't. Like what I can see vs what I can't. And that I have legs, even though I would like them to be stronger and skinnier…lol
    I was thinking of you today as we are sitting in Battle Creek Michigan tonight having unloaded at the Detroit airport and reloading in the morning here. God Bless.!

    • Thanks, Mary. Being grateful for what we can do is essential. Good point! Battle Creek is about an hour from where I live. My son played travel ball there every week this past summer.

  3. You see, without my limitations, I’d more often that not head down the wrong path. I’d miss God’s will. This says it all Kari…I have felt that protective hand of limitations from the Lord protect me many times. Of course at the time I bulk at them but each time I learned a lesson I would not have learned with out them. I am very close to 70 so this age limitation if not fun but it is a process that I can enjoy when I set my mind on Him and how much closer I am to seeing Him face to face. I have stopped resisting the process is what I meant to say, now I feel a sort of freedom that was not there in the resisting. good thoughts.

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