Here's something very remarkable about the true disciples of Christ whom I have met or read about: they are incredibly aware of their own weakness. They are not people who boast about all the great things they have done, or talk obnoxiously about their gifts and abilities. They are often people who have suffered, who have scars, and who aren't afraid to let people see them. Like Jacob, they have a noticeable "limp" from the times they have really wrestled, and God has demonstrated his power.
1 Corinthians 1:27: "...God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong...."
2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Upside-down philosophy #3: If you want to be powerful, you must accept your weakness.
I know all about weakness. I've always been physically weak, and as I get older, I get weaker. It's the nature of my disability. And I have a pretty stubborn and independent spirit, so I am keenly aware of the things I cannot do. Some days it makes me angry, some days it makes me depressed, and some days it makes me crazy (and not in a good way).
And since I was born with this weakness, I've had my whole life to learn and re-learn how to take my weakness to God and depend on him for strength. As I lay in bed at night, I talk to him about my frustrations and questions, my feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. And you know what he does? He reminds me of the words in the verses above. I don't remember when I first read those verses, or when I first understood how relevant they were to me. They've just been woven into the fibers of my life in such a way that I cannot imagine trying to live without these truths.
Because, you see, in the first verse, I learn that I am not a mistake to be fixed, or a problem to be discarded. God chose me in my weakness to be a part of His much bigger plan. It reminds me of His sovereignty - that He is God and knows what He is doing.
In the second verse, I learn that He didn't just make me weak and then leave me to wallow helplessly alone. He has given me grace. And if any of you have ever had even a taste of his grace, you know what a gift that is. We are all weak. I've been talking about my neuromuscular weakness in this post, but honestly, that is not my only (or even my greatest) weakness. When I examine my heart, I know some of my biggest weaknesses are pride, selfishness, and despair. And even if you have strong legs and can lift 200 pounds and are "more powerful than a locomotive," you can examine your own heart and discover crippling weaknesses, too. Because of this, we are all in desperate need of God's grace... and He promises that there is plenty to go around.
And here's where the upside-down-ness really makes me dizzy: God says that his power is made perfect in weakness! He doesn't just shrug and say: "Well, I don't know, but I'll try to figure out some way to show power in spite of this mess." No! He chose me because of my weakness! As in, my weakness provides the perfect platform for Him to show off his power.
So I need to quit complaining and sulking about my weakness, and stop trying and pretending to be strong on my own... and praise the Lord for designing me in such a way that He can be glorified. Thank you, Lord, for making me weak, and reminding me of my own weakness without you. Thank you for being powerful, so that when I lean on you, you help me stand strong. Thank you for your grace.
"Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong."