This is one of the most magnificent single-verse sermons in all of scripture! We learn the origin and purpose of weaknesses and how to overcome them. Weaknesses make us stronger because they bring our pride down to a level where we must look up.
Paul wrote: “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities . . . [and] in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak [in the things of the world], then am I strong [in the things of the Spirit]” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).
All of us have weaknesses in our fallen condition. We are each given a “thorn in the flesh” to make us humble, and if we allow the humility to work in us properly, we can make the weaknesses our strengths. We can actually become strong, even powerful; but the power does not originate in us. Paul wrote, “I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9; emphasis added). In and of ourselves, we are nothing; we are totally dependent upon the Lord. He is our strength. The Lord has said, “The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones . . . that the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple” (D&C 1:19, 23). “He that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong” (D&C 50:16). “By the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thrash the nations” (D&C 133:59).
As we learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery, we will overcome the weaknesses that God granted us and be “made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and have the power of Christ rest upon us.
Besides the apostle Paul, other great prophet-teachers have taught the purpose and potential good that may come from our weaknesses:
Jacob: “The Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace . . . that we have power to do these things” (Jacob 4:7).
Ammon: “I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” (Alma 26:12).
Moroni: “If ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32). Thus, the atonement of Christ redeems the faithful from two kinds of weakness. The first is the natural result of the Fall—the overarching, pervasive weakness of the natural, fallen, unregenerate man. The second kind comprises individual frailties and challenges.