“In all this, he is preparing you to be more fully his and to receive more from him than ever before. And for this to be possible, one has to renounce faith in one’s own strength and energy and let go of the supports one has had up to now.”
Unmasking beliefs, letting weaknesses be known, all this can feel pretty unnerving. It can take us so strongly into a sense of not being enough that we may find ourselves sinking internally! But that is never the point! God is not a God of condemnation or criticism. He never looks at you and says, “You sure did mess that up. Why didn’t you do better? Why aren’t you further along?” Whosever voice that is in your head, it’s not God’s. But oh, how convincing it can be.
It’s good to remember that the paradox of strength and weakness is seen in our heroes throughout Scripture. Peter, walking on the water–one minute he’s challenging, then he’s trying, then he’s tottering, then he’s afraid he’s dying, then he’s sinking and crying out for help! And that was Peter, the one whom Jesus said, “I’m going to build my church on you.” In other words, ordinary people just like you are who I am going to use to do miraculous things.
We see it also in Paul, whose life shows how raw a person can get, and yet that weakness “does have a role to play in the mystery of conversion and transformation by which we are made new” (The Joy of God, pg. 109). Paul was so transformed by this mystery of weakness and transformation that he urges us to glory in the weakness…to boast of it even. “He learned to live solely from the radiant grace of Christ, even as this meant dwelling continually on the edge of weakness and trial” (The Joy of God, pg. 111).
How ironic that we spend so much time trying to fix or eliminate the difficulties of our lives when the truth is that those hard places, the ones we’d rather not contend with, are exactly what allows us to participate more fully in the life of Christ and to rely on His strength rather than our own. “We cannot be made strong until we know our weakness—and knowing it means experiencing it and going through it.”
ACTION: What transformation might be happening inside you right now as you walk through the difficulties of your life? How might you focus your attention on Christ and what He’s doing in you right now, rather than on the hard thing you’d like to see changed?