I have been dragging my body through the last couple of weeks. It is always so humbling to see how my entire being bows low when my immune system does not hold down the fort like it should. I have had to think about everything, from the simple act of getting out of bed, to more complex things like how much of a task I can complete before I run out of energy. Thankfully my immune system is finally starting to win against this sickness, and I am hopeful I will be back to normal in a few days. As I have navigated the last couple of weeks, praying for strength to get through the days and somehow keep up with my responsibilities; the words of the apostle Paul have come to mind frequently:
“But He (God) said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I (Paul) will boast all the more gladly in weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
These words scare and encourage me at the same time. In the recent past, my experience of weakness has been physical but there are many times when I am comparably emotionally bowed low. There are times when my inner person is so tangled up my predominant thought as I go through the day is “just breathe and stay calm.” At times like these, I tend to use every ounce of my energy to exude confidence and maintain composure. Paul, however, took a different approach. He embraced his weakness and in fact celebrated it as a state in which he could experience perfect strength. I can imagine someone conceding to weakness, ashamed that it even existed, but this boasting, taking pride in the very thing one would otherwise be keen to hide, is surprising! I began to ask: what does it mean to boast in weakness? How can power be perfect in weakness? This is what I have found:
Acknowledge and address your weakness
We tend to believe that we are innately strong and capable of anything. In one sense this is true, but, we are also susceptible to failure despite our propensity to aim for perfection. These two realities are difficult to hold in equal regard, so we often sweep our weakness under the rug and perfect our outward appearance of strength. The problem is, this practiced outwardly strong persona, destroys us from the inside out.Our weakness is deep in the core of our being where the effects of sin and the resulting brokenness have wreaked havoc on our souls. If a house has foundation problems the lasting solution can never be to re-do the deck, paint the outside of the house, and touch up the landscape to improve its curb appeal; yet that is the approach we tend to take with our lives. We often concentrate our efforts on improving the curb appeal of our lives when our inner person is in shambles.We need to stop. We need to refuse to take the easy way out and dig deeper. When we choose to deal with the real problem, we make room for Christ to enter that place of weakness and transform it by infusing it with his power.
Constantly celebrate the platform for God’s strength
This side of heaven, even if you are a follower of Jesus, you are not immune to sin and the resulting brokenness. This means that you will need to depend on God over and over again as you discover more and more of your weakness. The good news is God, the perfect source of strength, is passionate about making you more like Christ. So as you navigate life, resist the urge to put on a show and instead run to him often. Systematically let go of the illusion of your strength and begin to acknowledge your weakness. Become so good at identifying your weakness as a platform for God’s strength, that you actually celebrate the opportunity your weakness brings for God to display his strength in and through you. This has been a life changing practice for me. Instead of dreading trials, I can choose to acknowledge the weakness they expose and then celebrate the fact that I get to see the sweeping power of God at work in my life.
It sometimes takes a lot of tries before you begin to see where Christ meets you in your weakness. Sometimes you see what you think is a complete picture of your weakness and invite him into that space, only to discover that it was worse than you thought. Sometimes you are actually doing well embracing His grace and navigating your circumstances, and then suddenly a curve ball sends you spiraling and gathering momentum in the wrong direction fast. Sometimes you think you are winning but the battle is never ending. The circumstance literally drags on and on and you start to wonder if you can really stick it out. Times of weakness have a way of exposing the depth of the sin in our hearts and therefore, our constant need for transforming grace. Remember our savior is relentless in his loving pursuit of your sin-riddled heart. He will keep working in you until you are perfect; because even a little sin is potent enough to sabotage you. So when you hit the unexpected slump, curve ball or never ending trial, keep your eyes on your faithful savior.
This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV)