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Blessed Weakness


Blessed Weakness

Lydia Brownback

Weakness—who wants that? No one, of course. So we pursue whatever path points us toward strength in every sphere of life.

But we just can't escape the reality that we are weak. Whether forced upon us by circumstances we cannot control or self-imposed, we're hampered by sins and sorrows and struggles. What’s weakening you today? An illness—or the fear of one? A loved one in trouble? A relationship that just gets worse and worse despite your efforts to fix it? An unfulfilled longing—something you’ve prayed about for years, perhaps decades, yet still no answer in sight?  All these things weaken us too—not just the world we live in but all the stuff of our own lives.

Yet weakness isn’t the end of the story for those in Christ. And, surprisingly, it isn’t something to be feared or fought against. In fact, it’s to be used. Weakness is actually an opportunity, something we can offer to God for his use. But, really—who among us does that? True confessions: when I’m weak, my first thought isn’t, “Oh, goodie—here’s something God can use!” No, I cry out for relief. I want God to fix what’s wrong so I can feel strong again.

Left to ourselves, we’ll always despise weakness. We want to be self-sufficient and autonomous. We don’t want to depend on God. But God loves us too much for this. So he weakens us in the way. Whatever is weakening you right now, today, it’s been providentially sent to deepen your dependence on God.

Apart from these painful providences, how would we know that God is really who he says he is? If life always goes smoothly, if our circumstances are always manageable, how will we ever recognize God as God? How will we ever learn about his power and sufficiency? How will we really understand his grace unless we see it come to us when we’ve failed, when we can’t cope, when we can’t see any way out of trouble—and whatever it might be that makes us weak?

God uses weakness to break us, but his breaking isn’t the destructive kind. God’s breaking tears down our illusion of self-sufficiency and weans us from our craving for autonomy. For those who belong to God in Christ, all his breakings are blessings.