Based on 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, this message focuses on the life of Paul and how he understood what it meant to be pushed to the limits of his strength. It describes how he went beyond human limits to survive and triumph over difficult circumstances. For more messages from Charles Stanley, including this week’s broadcast, go to

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male announcer: “In Touch,” the
teaching ministry of Dr. Charles

Stanley, reaching the world with
the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next on “In Touch,”
“Beyond Ourselves.”

Dr. Charles Stanley: It is in
the love and the wisdom of God

that He has chosen not to
tell us many things in life.

One of those aspects of life He
does not reveal: those things

that are going to take place in
the future of our life that are

difficult, trials,
hardships, tribulations,

whatever it might be.

He has chosen not to
tell us ahead of time

about these things.

Now, once in a while He may give
us some signal in our life about

something that is
going to take place.

But most of the time He doesn’t.

This is why it is so very
important that you and I are

continually growing
in our Christian life,

so that whenever these
things take place

we’ll be ready for them.

The person who
gets saved and says,

“Well, that’s good enough in
life for me at this point and

I’m just going to drift now.

“What they don’t
realize is this;

there are those experiences
in life that are beyond our

control, beyond our strength to
endure and if we don’t know the

key to that endurance we will
tumble and fall sooner or later.

And so, it is so very,
very essential that you and

I continually grow in
our Christian life.

Now, people face difficulties
and circumstances like these

in all kinds of ways.

For example, there are some
people who face difficulty and

hardship and the end result
is they lose their faith,

they become angry, hostile,
sometimes angry toward God,

begin to be cynical
about life, grow old,

isolate themselves and
die in a cynical attitude.

On the other hand, here’s
someone else who can go through

the same circumstance in life
and here are the end results;

they are richer in their
understanding of the ways of

God, they are stronger in their
faith in the power of God and

they are overwhelmed in
their heart by the love of God.

Now, what is the
difference in the way

these two people respond?

Here’s the difference; one of
them knows the source of their

strength and the
other one does not.

And that is the title of this
message today: “The Source of

Our Strength.”

And I want you to turn to a
passage of scripture written by

a man who understood so very,
very well what it meant to be

pushed to the limits of his
strength and how to go beyond

our human limits and endure
and survive and triumph over

the most difficult
circumstances in life.

2 Corinthians
chapter 1, verse 8.

The apostle Paul understanding
what it meant to be pushed to

the limits of his life.

Here’s what he said.

He doesn’t tell us exactly the
incident that took place or

all the details.

He’s writing to the Corinthians
just to remind them of the kind

of hurt and suffering and trial
and hardship that he had been

suffering and he says in verse
8: “For we do not want you to be

unaware, brethren, of our
affliction which came to us in

Asia, that we were
burdened excessively,

beyond our strength, so that
we despaired even of life;

indeed, we had the sentence of
death within ourselves in order

that we should not
trust in ourselves,

but in God who raises the dead;
who delivered us from so great

a peril of death,
and will deliver us,

He on whom we have set our hope.

And He will yet deliver us,
you also joining in helping us

through your prayers, that
thanks may be given by many

persons on our behalf for the
favor bestowed upon us through

the prayers of many.”

Now the apostle Paul wasn’t
a man who was a stranger to

difficulty, hardship, and
trial but a man who was very,

very aware, knowledgeable and
knew not only what it felt like

but who learned how to respond
to the most difficult and trying

of circumstances.

So, I simply want to begin
by saying that there are

circumstances in life that
require strength beyond

what we have humanly.

There are those circumstances
in life that require strength

beyond what you
and I have humanly.

Now let’s look at the
apostle Paul for a moment.

And I want you to
notice in this passage,

though he doesn’t tell us
exactly when this took place

or where or the
particular incident.

It could have been the riot in
Ephesus or some other incident.

I want you to notice the words
he uses to describe this–for

this reason; it may be that
you’re one of those persons

who’s going through one of
those trials and you say,

“But wait a minute.

Don’t tell me about
the apostle Paul.

The apostle Paul lived
about two thousand years ago.

And things have changed.”

Let me tell you
what has not changed.

Sin hasn’t changed.

The devil hasn’t changed.

Temptation hasn’t changed.

Hardships, trials,
suffering, difficulty,

attacks, none of that’s changed.

It’s just a different day in
which it is going on: And so,

the apostle Paul knew what he
was speaking of here and all of

us face those circumstances
in which we feel we are

pushed to the limits.

And we are–we have to go beyond
our human energy and strength

whether it is
intellectual, moral,

spiritual, physical,
emotional, whatever it might be.

So, as you think about it in
your own life–let’s look at it

this way.

You may be one of
those persons who says,

“You know, I have been so
wronged and so wronged by the

same person for so long I
don’t have the strength,

I don’t have the power to keep
on forgiving someone who keeps

on wronging me.”

Or, you may be one of those
persons who is in an working

environment that is so anti-God
and anti-Christian you just

think, “I can’t keep hanging in
here in this kind of atmosphere

trying to be what I ought to be,
doing what I ought to be.

I just don’t have the
strength to live in this kind of

environment day
after day on my job,

under constant criticism because
I believe the Bible and believe

God, go to church, and try
to live a Christian life.”

Or, you may be in the kind of
environment or atmosphere in

which the
temptation is so strong,

so prevailing, so
overwhelming you just think,

“I absolutely cannot I just
don’t have the strength

to endure this.”

Now, there are many people
who live in those circumstances

every day.

And how do they survive?

God’s people, how
do they survive?

Well, when you look at this
passage of scripture you have to

also conclude this and that is,
that there–that the strength

required, listen, the strength
required to enable us to endure

those circumstances beyond
our human power and strength is

available in the
person of Jesus Christ.

Now I know that may be a
simple or simplified statement.

That the power, the energy
required to enable us to face

these things triumphantly and
victoriously is to be found

in Christ, but it is.

It is to be found in Him and the
apostle Paul understood that.

He understood that well.

That’s why he says
in this passage here.

He says: “Indeed, we had
the sentence of death within

ourselves in order that we
should not trust in ourselves,

but in God who raises the dead.”

Now listen carefully.

Here is a basic foundational
principle for teaching us how to

walk in the most difficult,
trying circumstance of life.

And even though there
may be dips and moments of

discouragement or
periods of wondering,

“God, where are You?”

There is a solution.

There is a way.

It is God’s way.

It is the best way and it is the
only way to survive and endure

triumphantly, victoriously,
without losing our peace

and losing our joy.

And the apostle Paul
tells us what it is.

He says the source of our
strength is in the person

of Jesus Christ.

What did he mean by that?

Simply this: that
when you and I received,

by faith, the Lord Jesus Christ
as our personal Savior,

the Bible says, that
Jesus Christ came to live

on the inside of us in our
spirit, in the presence

of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit lives
inside every single believer.

And what is He doing?

Living out through us
the life of Christ.

Now, who Jesus Christ
was is who He is today.

The same yesterday,
today and forever.

What He did in those
days He’s doing today.

And the same power and strength
that prevailed in His life in

those days seal still prevails
in Him today and He’s living on

the inside of us.

So that, listen, all the
strength and all the power to

endure, survive and keep our joy
and keep our peace is not only

available to us today, it is
already abiding in us in the

very presence of Jesus Christ.

You see, God doesn’t have to
send down from heaven something

to enable me to face anything.

It is already my
possession and your possession.

So, God has indwelt in every
single believer enough strength

and enough power that you
and I can face every single

circumstance of life
no matter what it is.

Now listen to what Paul said.

He said, in Ephesians “Be strong
in the Lord and in the power of

His might.”

He said to Timothy in
2 Timothy chapter 2,

he said, “Be strong in the
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And then the apostle Paul made
a statement that all of us have

quoted many times.

He said, “Here’s
what I’ve learned.”

He said, “By this principle
that I want to show you.”

He said, “I’ve learned
that I can do all things.”

Listen to that.

“I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me.”

He didn’t say I can do anything
and all things and everything.

He said, “I can do all things
through Christ who

strengthens me.”

Did Paul always know that?


You know how Paul
learned that lesson?

He learned it the same way
you and I have to learn it.

And the way we learn that we can
do all things through Christ who

strengths us is to get thrown
into those impossible situations

where we feel the crushing
pressure and the absolute,

total inability and totally
incapacitated to change our

circumstances and learn–learn
the lesson that when our limits

have been exhausted we can go
beyond our limits because of

a strength and supernatural,
divine power given to and

available to every
single believer.

We learn it by
getting thrown into it.

We learn it only in that way
because if you only listen to it

from someone else or read it in
a book you will never know and

have a conviction about the
adequacy of Christ in your life

until you have to
experience that.

And so, the apostle Paul,
knowing exactly what was

happening and as he looked at
his own life and shared how God

had worked in his life.

What is he saying?

He is saying, “There is a power.

There is a strength.”

He said, “I can do all things
through Christ who

strengthens me.”

Now once in a while somebody
will misinterpret that passage.

There is a limitation on
what you and I can do.

That limitation is clearly
defined in that passage.

When he says, “I can do all
things through Christ

who strengthens me.”

Where does the
strength come from?

It comes from the
person of Christ,

our relationship with Him.

What is the limitation?

Here’s the limitation.

God is not going to strengthen
you and me to do anything that

is not the will of the Father.

So, He’s not going to empower
us and strengthen us to do

something it’s
not His will to do.

And so, what does He do?

Whatever God calls you to do,
if it’s in your occupation,

if He’s called you to a certain
occupation and a certain type of

work that may be very difficult,
if He’s placed you there,

He is going to enable you,
strengthen you and equip you

to do every single
thing required of you.

God will enable you to do it.

Now listen carefully.

That’s why running out on a
difficult situation is never,

never, never legitimate
for the child of God.

It is a confession to the world
that our Savior is inadequate.

Now let me
qualify that by saying,

I would never say that a person
who is living in a situation

where their life has been
threatened by someone because of

some kind of horrible, physical
abuse–that is a situation

that is an exception.

There may have to be
an exception there.

But I’m talking
about difficulty,

hardships, trials, tribulations,
we don’t like the way folks

treat us, we don’t like
the way things happen.

And sometimes, here’s
a person, for example,

in a job and you’ve been working
there a long time for the same

company, and you get passed
over in raise and promotion.

And the job is given to someone
else over here who’s far less

qualified, does not make
as much money as you do,

hasn’t been there as
long as you’ve been there.

And they just pass over you.

And you say, “Well, why
should I hang in here?

How do I have the strength
and the power to be just as

enthusiastic about my job
when I am so ill-treated?”

That is the kind of situation
you don’t run out on because

you’ve been ill-treated.

Now listen.

Here’s what I want us to see.

Look, if you will, in 2
Corinthians 12 and I want us to

notice a conflict, what
appears to be a conflict here.

You’ll recall that Paul
said in Ephesians chapter 1.

He said–or Ephesians
chapter 6, he said,

“Be strong in the Lord.”

He told Timothy, “Be
strong in the grace of our

Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now listen.
It looks like a contradiction.

On the one hand he’s
saying, “Be strong in the Lord.”

On the other hand, he says
in 2 Corinthians chapter 12.

Look at that.

He says in verse 5: “On behalf
of such a man,” speaking of

himself, “will I boast; but on
my on my own behalf I will not

boast, except in
regard to my weaknesses.”

He says, “You want to know
what I want to boast of?”

He says, “I boast
about my weaknesses.”

Look in verse 9.

He said he discovered that God’s
grace is sufficient to him.

And he said, again, in
verse 9: “Most gladly,

therefore, I will rather
boast about my weaknesses,

in order that the power of
Christ may dwell in me.”

And verse 10 he says: “When
I am weak, I am strong.”

Now what kind of
double talk is that?

I mean, wait a minute, Paul.

On the one hand
you are commanding,

“Be strong in the Lord.”

On the other hand, you are
saying, “But I love to be weak.”

That doesn’t even
make any sense.

Until you understand.

Here’s what Paul is saying.

Paul says, “Here’s
what I’ve discovered.

It’s the most amazing thing.”

He said, “I have discovered that
when I am weak and I get weaker

and weaker and weaker and
weaker and weaker and weaker.”

He says, “When I’m down here in
my weakest moments,” he says,

“here’s what I’ve discovered.

It is in those moments I
feel the greatest surge of this

supernatural, divine
energy either intellectually,

either emotionally, morally,
spiritually, physically.”

He says, “In that weakest moment
of my life that’s when I get the

biggest surge of the power
of God working in my life.”

So, he says, “Here’s
what I’ve discovered.

I discovered instead of
despising weakness and feeling

out of control and helpless,”
which none of us like.

None of us like to
feel out of control.

No one wants to feel helpless.

Nobody likes weakness.

I don’t like that
anymore than anybody else.

No one likes that.

But you see, here’s
what Paul discovered.

He says, “Here’s
what I discovered.

If I am willing to
experience great weakness,

then I can
experience great strength.”

Watch this.
Watch this.

Are you listening?
Say, “Amen.”

To the degree–listen to
this–to the degree I am willing

to be weak, to the same
degree I am willing to

experience strength.

Which says, I have to
deal with the pride problem.

Because you see, no
one likes to admit,

“I’m weak.

I’m frail.”

You see, today’s
world says, “Be strong.

Be beautiful.
Be handsome.

Be rich.

Be all of these things.”

You know what God says?

“Be poor in spirit,
full of weakness, humility.”

And the world hates that.

They can’t stand that.

They despise weakness.

You know what God says?

He says, “I love it.”

Now, I don’t like it
very well to be honest.

And probably you don’t
either, if you’re honest.

None of us like to feel weak,
out of control and helpless.

But, when you and I learn that
it is in those weakest moments

when we cannot,
we’re out of control,

we can’t do anything about it,
that’s when God is free to do

His greatest work in
empowering and strengthening us.

That’s when we
become the most equipped,

the most enabled to suffer,
to experience, to endure.

No matter what the trial maybe
we can walk through it not with

a sad face, not
having a pity party,

not complaining and moaning and
groaning though sometimes

we’re tempted to do that.

But he says, “No matter what’s
going on there is a power and

strength available to
the children of God.

Now, if someone else had
said that in the scripture,

somewhere along the way,
that didn’t make a big,

strong impression on
us maybe we could say,

well you know, this,
that, and the other about him.

But you can’t say that
about the apostle Paul,

because here’s a man
who experienced it.

Now, if you think about the
character and the nature of this

strength that he gives.

Listen, He says the strength
that He gives to all of us,

whatever we are
facing is unsurpassable.

It is unsurpassable.

One of our problems
is we want–we somehow–

we can’t believe that God would
love us enough or that He’s

interested enough in you as a
student in your classroom or you

on job to be genuinely
interested enough to–I mean,

to focus His divine attention
upon your circumstance

and provide exactly what
you need for that moment,

this day, that day,
the next day, the next week,

the next month, the next
year and to keep you

in that situation.

We just think, “Well God, why?”

And you see, this is
the promise of God,

“My God shall supply,” what?

“All your need according
to His riches in glory.”

Listen, one of the riches of the
grace of God for you and me is

the power and the
strength to live,

to face, to endure, to survive
and to do so victoriously

and triumphantly.

God doesn’t want you and me
failing in the Christian life.

We all do at times, but He
wants us to learn the truths,

to know how to walk
through difficulty.

And as we said before, the only
way we learn it is to get

thrown into it.

Most people just want
you to give them a book,

give them a passage,
preach a sermon, “Got it.”

No, you haven’t.

Because I’ve discovered,
in my own life,

many truths that I learned.

I thought, “Well,
I’ve got that one down.”

And then the Lord sends me
a big test along the way,

and I realize, “No, I
don’t have it down.

I thought I learned it.”

No, what I did is; I heard
it and I understood it and I

believed it, but I
didn’t learn it.

How do I learn it?

By getting thrown in the fire.

That’s how you learn it.

And you see, the people who
avoid the fire and try to avoid

the valley experiences the
they don’t want to feel weak.

That’s just–and I agree it is a
total opposition to everything

human nature cries out for.

Human nature within us
cries out to be strong.

Human nature cries
out to be courageous.

Human nature
cries out to be fit,

ready, capable, adequate to
meet every situation in life.

God says, “You want to
know how to do that?

I’ll tell you how.

Get real weak.

Be absolutely, totally
helpless, dependent upon Me,

that’s the way you experience
the greatest strength.”

Now he called it
unsurpassable power.

Look, if you will, in
Ephesians chapter 1,

when Paul was writing there
in his prayer for the Ephesian

Christians here’s
what he prayed for them.

Ephesians chapter 1, he says in
verse 18: “I pray that the eyes

of your heart may
be enlightened,

so that you may know what
is the hope of His calling,

what are the riches of the
glory of His inheritance

in the saints.”

And he says, “Here’s my–

here’s another part of
my prayer for you.”

He says, I want you to
experience and to know:

“What is the surpassing
greatness of His power

toward us.”

You know what he’s saying?

He says the power
that almighty God,

the strength that He makes
available for His children

is unsurpassable.

You know what that says?

That Satan cannot throw anything
in your path with all of His

Satanic power to
match–listen to this–

Satan cannot throw
anything in your path,

with all of his Satanic power,
to match the supernatural,

divine power available to
the believer in the person

of Jesus Christ.

Satan’s power can’t
even begin to match it.

This is unsurpassing power.

And secondly, it is available
to every single believer.

He says that is the gift of God.

When you received
Jesus, you got it!

And it comes in a
very simple way.

It comes through
the introduction,

it comes through the confession,
the acknowledgement.

And this is where, I think,
we have to ask ourselves the

question, “Am I–do I know how
to have this power and strength

released in my life
when I’m facing this?”

And the answer is yes
and it’s very simple.

He didn’t make it complex
because he wanted us all to

understand it and all to be able
to experience it in our life.

And here’s what he says.

And you’ve caught it already.

How do I get this strength
and power released in my life?

Acknowledging that
I am absolutely,

totally helpless.

“God, if You don’t
do it, it won’t work.

You have to do it
Lord, I can’t do it.”

The confession and
acknowledgement of weakness and

helplessness, and we
don’t like to do that.

When’s the last time you
ever said to a friend,

“I feel so weak and so
helpless and so absolutely

and totally out of control.

There’s not a thing in the
world I can do in my situation.

Not one thing.”

Have you been willing to humble
yourself and acknowledge that to

someone or do you want to keep
up to keep up the appearance?

“I can handle it.

I’ve got it under control.”

That is arrogance and pride
and there is no blessing that

comes through that.

It is the, listen,
Paul said, “I’m weak.”

He said, “When I
came to you to preach,

I came to you to preach
in weakness and fear

and trembling!”

Have you been
willing to say to someone,

“I feel so weak
and so inadequate.”

You see, listen to
me carefully now.

You can tell God that in private
but act strong in public and I

don’t think it works.

I think you have to say to
someone–in other words,

I think there is a requirement
of a humbling of ourselves to

say, “I am inadequate.

I am weak.

And God, I can’t.”

And I’m going to tell you, I
wouldn’t walk out here a single

Sunday feeling like I
have it under control,

or you wouldn’t see me
coming through those doors.

And I’ll tell you why.

Because I feel like
the old apostle Paul.

Every time I walk
of here it’s fear,

weakness, and
trembling because I’m sure,

back yonder, somewhere
in my life I walked out,

thought I had it under control
and the Lord slapped me flat

on my face.

And I am grateful
to God, listen, weakness!

Listen, for the growing child
of God weakness is inviting.

We understand the
power of weakness.

We understand the
power of humility.

I don’t mean some
fake humbleness.

I’m talking about
genuinely relying upon Him,

the acknowledgement of our
weakness and just saying to Him,

“God, I’m relying upon You.

I cannot.

If You don’t do it,
it’s not going to happen.”

And thirdly, simply believing
that He’ll do what He said.

He says, “My God shall supply
all your need according

to His riches in glory.”

When I need it.

How long?
Ever how long I need it.

How much?
Ever how much I need.

Anything that God does less than
that or off timing or out of

step with my needs,
that’s not God.

Now I don’t know about
you but I’m telling you,

I’ve tried it both ways.

The first way doesn’t work.

You can’t do it in your
own strength and survive.

And there’s a better way.

If you want to become richer in
the understanding of the ways

of God, if you want to become
stronger in your faith in the

power of God and if you
want to become overwhelmed in

experiencing the love of God the
way to do it is to acknowledge

your weakness and helplessness,
throw yourself upon God,

rest in Him and trust Him
to be in you and through you

everything you need at
this moment in your life.

And my friend, no matter what
your circumstance this I can

absolutely assure
you of, Jesus Christ,

the Son of God,
who is your Savior,

if you have trusted Him
as your personal Savior,

who dwells on the inside of you
will release all the power and

the strength necessary to enable
you to face what you’re facing

victoriously, triumphantly,
with great joy through it all.