Be Weak

Showing the strain

(Photo Credit: Brian Smithson on Flickr; used with permission under a Creative Commons license)

Today, I give you permission to be weak.

Too many of us put on this façade of being tough, having it all together. We cover up our weaknesses and try to compensate with our strengths. We find something from which we can derive self-worth, haunted by the side of us that tells us we’re worthless.

If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we’re all just a few steps away from disarray.

The world doesn’t offer much hope when we feel weak. Phrases like, “Suck it up,” or, “Man up,” may hype us up for a moment but leave us starving for real hope.

We internalize by beating ourselves up. We experience shame and turn in on ourselves with self-hate.

We externalize by pursuing addictions or by expressing our sadness in anger, or even violence, at others. We try to take from others what we don’t have ourselves and turn our self-hate on them because they couldn’t give us what we needed.

What terrible, dark, paralyzing weakness.

True Strength

In the New Testament, we read that the apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove a “thorn” from Paul’s life. The thorn, a symbol for something (the Bible doesn’t clearly tell us), is something that causes Paul to feel weak. Paul is powerless to remove this thorn from his life.

Do you ever feel like that? Powerless to do something? Powerless to change? Powerless to deal with something in your life?

So Paul does the only thing he can think of. It’s the only other option: Ask God to take it away.

God’s response, at first glance, may seem contrary to his nature. It’s not what he normally says, or at least what we might expect him to say. It’s not along the lines of Jesus’ healings where he says, “Your faith has made you well,” or, “I am willing.”

God says, “No.”

Paul records God’s response this way: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

The apostle goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10).

True strength is falling into God’s arms. Ending the acting. Stopping the faking. Giving up. Letting go.

The Most Profound Thing

There’s a story (whose accuracy I can’t validate) about Karl Barth, an influential theologian of the 20th century. Barth is asked a question: “What is the most profound statement of Christian theology?”

Barth responds with the simple lyrics of a childhood hymn:

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so

So may you be raptured by a love that comes to us amid our weakness, may you trust in a love that whispers to us amid temptation, may you be enveloped with a love so great it conquers death. May you have the courage to be weak and be lifted by he who is strong.

Stop. Look. Listen.

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(Photo Credit: Esther Simpson on Flickr; used with permission under a Creative Commons license)

The Lord then gave these instructions to Moses: “Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. (Exodus 31:12-13, NLT)

God gave us the Sabbath to help us center our identity in him.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our work. To validate who we are by what we do. And if we find ourselves working during our day of rest, we may be guilty of turning our work into an idol.

But God gives us permission to stop. To be unproductive. To be unbusy. It is he who sanctifies us and makes us holy.

It may be scary to stop because it requires us to come face to face with who we are. No more distractions. Just you and God.

In the Sabbath, God invites us to STOP.

We don’t need to perform or to prove ourselves to anyone. We simply slow down allow God to speak into our lives.

In the Sabbath, God invites us to LOOK.

We can miss so much of life when we’re rushing from one thing to the next. Where do you see God working in your life? In the world around you? Where do you see God in creation? In the sunrises and the sunsets? In the people you see day in and day out?

In the Sabbath, God invites us to LISTEN.

Our lives are filled with so much noise we may miss out on hearing God’s still small voice. What is God saying to you? What words of affirmation and love and acceptance is he whispering in your ear?