2003-01-24 - Strength in Weakness
God's Paradoxes, Part 1
Sometimes we feel that we are useless to God, our families, friends or church - because we are so weak. It may be spriitual weakness; perhaps we are struggling heavily with or falling into a temptation. Or maybe we are physically weak - even confined to our home or a wheelchair. It could be an emotional weakness - depression, anxiety etc.
Our culture glorifies strength, and we pursue physical strength via carefully targeted exercises. We can even buy walking shoes that come equipped with a one-pound weight for each foot (Yes, I am buying a pair.). There is nothing wrong with being strong - if its aligned with Gods purposes. And we should pursue spiritual strength, via prayer, Bible study and fellowship in the local church (as well as with other Christians). But too often the mentally, physially and especially the financially strong are idolized -- while the weaker members of our community are mocked or ignored. But thats the worlds way of thinking, not Gods.
God can use us in any state. In fact, sometimes when we are weak, He has us just where He wants us.
2 Corinithians 12:9 NASB Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."
How can this be? For one thing, when we are weak, it highlights God's strength. While God doesn't wish pain on any of His children, He stands ready to use our difficulties for His purposes. Sometimes that plays out in our helping others dealing with similar situations. Alcoholics Anonymous is an obvious example. Recovering alcoholics live out Gods instructions to strengthen and encourage our sisters and brothers who are struggling, and to hold each other accountable.
Conversely, when we are at our strongest, sometimes we are actually pretty useless to God. At those times, we can lapse into depending on OUR strength, OUR abilities and OUR wisdom. In contrast, when we reach the end of ourselves, we have no choice but to lean on God.
For some proponents of mercy killing, a life spent as a paraplegic would be a wasted, pitiful life. But look at Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni cannot dress or feed herself. But she has inspired millions with her writings, her perseverance, her encouragement and her art. Her ministry provides wheelchairs for indigent African paraplegics, nourishes families of the disabled at retreats, and educates people about the potential of God's children who just happen to be inhabiting less-than-perfect bodies. She has probably touched many more lives than she ever would have, if she had not had a traumatic diving accident. Strength is made perfect in her weakness.
While most of us wont have as dramatic stories as Joni, we all have weaknesses and weak moments which God can use.