Weakness is a term Paul uses to refer to suffering, hardship, affliction, insults, persecutions, etc. that the Lord brings into the lives of his people (2 Cor. 12:10). These types of things are painful and generally makes us feel, well, weak.
These times of weakness often feel pointless but the Lord is at work in and through our weaknesses. Here are a few things that the Lord is doing in the suffering, hardships and weaknesses we encounter.
Weaknesses make us rely on the Lord and not ourselves.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
Weaknesses bring God glory by demonstrating that the power at work in us belongs to God and not to us.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair… (2 Cor. 4:7-8)
Weaknesses keep us humble.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:7-9)
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6)
Weaknesses mean that the power of Christ rests upon us.
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
In your weakness be content, boast in it, and above all, trust the Lord.
Psalm 91 provides a good opportunity to see the difference between trusting God and testing God.
Psalm 91 is a psalm of great confidence in the Lord. It is also a portion of Scripture that the devil quotes in the New Testament. Verse 9 states that because the faithful person trusts the Lord no evil will befall them (verse 10). No evil will befall them because the Lord “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Ps. 91:11-12)
When the devil quotes this Scripture he attempts to entice Jesus to jump from a high pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4:5-6). If Jesus is the Son of God then God will surely rescue him by sending his angels to bear him up lest he strikes his foot against the hard stones below. What this would prove we aren’t told. Perhaps it would gain Jesus a great following. Perhaps it was more personal. Is he really the “Son of God” and would his Father really protect him? Jumping would prove his sonship and the Father's love.
Either way Jesus picks up on the devil’s motives. He responds by saying that you shall not put the Lord your God to the test (Matt. 5:7). But what is the test? Isn't Jesus really the Son of God? Isn't the Father going to protect him? After all he has to die by hanging and not by falling. Doesn’t Psalm 91 say that God will protect his man?
Yes but here is the difference between trusting and testing God.
Trust looks to the Lord for deliverance when you stumble or are pushed. Testing occurs when you jump and expect the Lord to deliver you. Trust looks to the Lord for help when the enemy is shooting at you. Testing occurs when you pull the trigger and expect the Lord to change the path of the bullet. Trust involves great humility and acceptance of God's plan (to rescue or not rescue in any given situation) whereas testing involves the pursuit of personal glorification (jumping will prove to all how great my faith is and how much God loves me). Trust leads to obedience to God. Testing demands God's protection.
Jesus, the Son of God, trusted and obeyed. He would not test the Lord God.