The Gift of Weakness

Photo Credit: MI PHAM on Unsplash

“For when I am weak, then I am strong…”

~St. Paul

When I was young, these words of St. Paul made no sense to me. How can you be both weak and strong at the same time? And even into my early adulthood, I would cringe to hear employers or supervisors ask what I thought my weaknesses were. Why do we have to talk about my weaknesses? I didn’t want to think about having weakness. let alone talk about it!

I wanted to shift away from the topic as soon as possible. Why not just focus on my strengths?

But something happened to change that mindset. I moved to another country for a new job. As soon as I arrived, I knew I was in over my head. There was only one other American who worked at the same university I did and he was probably the only American for an hour radius from that campus. Even though I was supposed to be the teacher, most of the time during my first months there, I felt like I was about 2 years old (and even 2 year olds had more language facility than I did in this new country) I went from being a graduate student at a prestigious university to being completely dependent upon others for food, transportation, communication, and orientation to my new job description.

During that year, I lived out in a very real sense what it is to be “weak” and feel dependent on the good will and generosity and grace of others. And especially what it meant to be utterly dependent on God for my daily provision. I was alone a lot and had no friends or family nearby. It was during that time of weakness and loneliness that I started to feel the strength of God’s presence much more profoundly than I had ever felt it back at home where I had friends and family aplenty.

It was here in my own position of weakness that Paul’s words began to ring much more true to me. We cannot know God’s strength for us if we are still enamored with our own strength and resources. It is not until we come to the end of our own reserves that we have space to receive what He desires to give us. The gift of weakness is really the gift of need which invites God to come close to us.

“Real true faith is man’s weakness relying on God’s strength.”

~Dwight L. Moody

We see this in the story of the Wedding at Cana that we read in John 2:1-12. Without the wine running out and their vessels standing empty, there would have been no reason for Mother Mary to ask Jesus to help the wedding hosts in their moment of need and weakness. But because of the lack of that family who hosted the wedding that day, we are given the gift of seeing God’s abundant and miraculous overflow of the best wine poured out for us.

“Deny your weakness and you will never discover God’s strength in you.”

~Joni Eareckson Tada

Where do you see weakness in your own life? Or lack in the world around you? It’s not hard to find. We find it staring us in the face almost every turn we make. But what if we looked at that place of need in our lives or in the lives of those around us and began to bless it as a gift. A gift of weakness into which we invite the God of redemption to come close to us. The more we bring our spaces of weakness to Him, the more we will see His strength and supply overflow in our lives.

“Even if no command to pray had existed, our very weakness would have suggested it.”

~Francois Fenelon

Jesus once told his disciples that unless they became like little children, they could not enter the kingdom of heaven. In this picture, we see that God draws near to those who need him and know that they need him – like little children crying out for their Abba Father. Like my nieces and nephews calling out when they need me to reach something that on a high shelf, or need me to tie their shoes, or kiss their knee when they have fallen in the dirt. I love to hear their voices and to answer their call. In their weakness, they call out for me and our relationship grows stronger. In what areas are you like a little child, acknowledging your need for Him to come close? What spaces of weakness and need can you bless as spaces for discovering new depths of God’s grace-giving strength and supply?

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