... AND WHAT DO I DO WITH WEAKNESS?
Last year I saw a news story of an attempted car jacking at a gas station in Florida. It was harrowing to watch. Two masked men climb boldly into the front of a little car...while the driver is beside it at the gas pump! In that situation, I think that most people would have said, “Forget the car!” and gotten to safety. Not in this case! The woman whose car was being stolen RAN round the front of her car and dived into the drivers seat. With great force she dragged the first guy out and pulled the mask from his face! (The second carjacker immediately exited the car of his own free will!) The two men, who then ran off like cowards, had missed one important detail about that car…there were babies in the back seat!
I hope they learned their lesson...Don't mess with mama!
When you're young, full of vision and life, there's no limit to what you can do. There really isn't! God has wired us, as women, to have an incredible inner strength, an industriousness that propels us forward to fix things and make it all work. (And when it comes to our babies, look out!) These abilities enable us to get back up when we've been knocked down, to persevere through many trials, and when things are consistently challenging we still find a way to figure it out.
This amazes me!
It amazes me in myself! Likewise, I never cease to be amazed at what I see women around me walking through and carrying, while still being generous to those around them and sweet to their children.
But what about those of us who feel completely downtrodden by life?
What about the times when we've tried and we've prayed and we've given and we've waited and we've cried and we've...you can fill in the blank. We all know what that moment feels like, when we are completely at the end of ourselves and, coincidentally, we’ve noticed that there is very little joy in the “doing” of our lives. I think, all of us reading this can say, Yes, that's me, or, That has been me, at one point or another.
This might sound kind of crazy but, actually, that's not a bad place to be. It might be one of the best places TO be...and it probably took some of us a long time to get there!
The apostle Paul described that state in his life as being like a messenger sent from satan to torment him. That is pretty extreme language! 2 Corinthians 12 tells us of how Paul prayed three times that God would take away the thing that troubled him. Do you know what God said to him? "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” I wonder what Paul's response was to such a counter-cultural, self-denying, humbling statement from His Lord and Friend.
I don't know about you but I want that power.
I want to have God’s strength flowing through me! But here’s the clincher, that power is only available when we accept the end of ourselves, our limitations and our weaknesses. The Power that Paul speaks of is available when we surrender our ability to DO.
Let's be honest, that gift of industrious inner strength can be our biggest enemy.
Just ask your husband, your mom or your roommate. How many times have you asked someone to do something for you but then go and do it yourself? Why can't we let things be?! (That's another conversation for another day.) Like Paul, I want to delight in hardship, in difficulty and in my weakness.
When I accept my weakness - and stop trying to do it all on my own - I am able to access the strength of God and enter into His grace.
We are told in scripture that the Joy of the Lord is our strength. From the last few conversations we’ve had on the podcast we know that Joy is relational; it’s a feeling of deep peace and contentment when we know that someone is glad to be with us. So what does that look like in the midst of letting God’s power be perfect in our weakness?
Perhaps it means that we allow Him into our weak places, stepping deeper into relationship with the God who knows us so well, allowing Him to supply all that we lack in each moment of our day, as Immanuel, the God who is with us.
What a concept! I’m going to be honest and say that I feel like this is easy for me to write about and very difficult to actually walk out. As strong, industrious women, I deeply believe that it’s often not until we're at the end of ourselves that we really allow Jesus to step in.
As we allow Him to carry us we access that power that brings hope and provision and healing and peace.
If you have checked out on life, checked out on your marriage or given up on your children, then you wouldn't be reading this! But if you’re still at the table, perhaps exhausted and feeling harassed by this world, but still fighting to love your children, serve your family, and bring goodness and light to the world around you, let's embrace our weakness together and access the power of Christ!
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:8-10