Years ago, I knew a man who was healthy and vibrant at age 50. He had a sailboat and loved hunting. As a builder, he was a craftsman.

Then, he had a stroke. It left one side of his body, unable to function. As I spoke, tears came to his eyes. He was a strong man reduced to a wheelchair.

Ian Corbin of the Harvard Medical School has interviewed people like my friend. He observed:

Post-stroke isolation is one more symptom, badly compounding the damage done by stroke itself … Studies show that stroke patients’ networks tend to contract in the wake of a stroke. Why? The causes are not perfectly clear, but we can say this: Too often in America, we are ashamed of being weak, vulnerable, dependent. We tend to hide our shame. We stay away. We isolate ourselves, rather than show our weakness.

It is the human condition to show strength. Yet, in a paradox, Christianity turns it upside down.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about a thorn. No one knows to what it referred, but it was a source of suffering. Paul, as any of us would, wanted it removed. Prayer after prayer failed.

Instead, he heard God’s message loud and clear.

“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.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Boasting in weakness is not normal. It takes greater faith and reliance on the Lord to elevate what we cannot do. Instead, it points to a Lord that makes weakness strength.

Strokes can be devastating. What is worse is the hubris we are powerful on our own. Learn to say, in all things, “when I am weak, He is strong.”

-Robert G. Taylor-