Saturday, January 3, 2009

Embrace Your Weakness

“When we arrive at the end of our own strength, it is not defeat, but the start of tapping into God’s boundless resources. It is when we are weak that we are strong in God.” Brother Yun

Did you know your liabilities can actually be your greatest assets? When you experience feelings of inadequacy and weakness, do you struggle to overcome them, or embrace them and exchange them for God’s power? Do you feel you need to be strong around others in order to lead effectively, or can you be vulnerable with your struggles, and in so doing, model the “strength through weakness principle”?

The “strength through weakness principle” is this: God’s supernatural power is made perfect in our human weakness. If we will learn to embrace our weakness, and through our weakness turn to God, then we can experience His power in ways we never dreamed possible.

We all long to experience God’s power in our lives and ministry. However, God will often have us travel down the alley of weakness before we can drive on the highway of His power! He desires to use every situation and emotion that we perceive as negative, to lead us to greater dependence on Him.

Because we all tend toward pride and self-sufficiency, God will often orchestrate difficult circumstances to teach us this important principle. J.I. Packer, in the book Knowing God says,
“God at times overwhelms us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and drives us to cling to Him more closely. This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort or another – it is to insure that we shall learn to hold Him fast … God wants us to feel that our way throughout life is rough and perplexing, so that we may learn thankfully to lean on Him. Therefore He takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in Himself.

Consider the many passages in God’s Word affirming the strength through weakness principle:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29).

“I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power (1 Corinthians 2:3-5).

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, … whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:32-35).

“For to be sure, Jesus was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with Him to serve you” (2 Corinthians 13:4).

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

One of the strongest Christians who ever lived, the Apostle Paul, spoke of the value of weakness. He was going through a particularly difficult time in his life when the Holy Spirit inspired him to write the following passage:
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ 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 12:7-11).

Paul had experienced many supernatural visions and insights (2 Corinthians 12:1). These experiences with God could have caused him to become prideful. God knew this, and therefore, brought a “thorn” into Paul’s life. What was this thorn? We aren’t told, probably because if we were told we would compare our thorn to Paul’s.

The purpose rather than the identification of the thorn is what is most important, and the purpose was to keep Paul humbly dependent on God.

The same is true for us. God often orchestrates thorns in our lives. Our thorn may be circumstantial, relational or emotional. Anything which causes us to struggle, feel weak, or inadequate is a “thorn” of sorts. We can ask God to remove the thorn, as Paul did. And He may remove it. However, He may not remove it. When God doesn’t remove our thorn, we can be sure He has a greater purpose in it. That purpose is to teach us to embrace our weakness, that we might be supernaturally empowered by His Spirit – “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul had experienced the strength through weakness principles so many times he could actually say “I delight in weakness.”

Let’s apply this principle in YOUR daily life and ministry, so you can begin to delight in weakness. Whenever you feel inadequate, weak, intimidated or fearful, rather than run away from those weaknesses or camouflage them in some way, learn to embrace them and exchange them for God’s power.

For example, when you are experiencing frustration with some area of personal holiness, instead of beating yourself up, pray this prayer, “Lord, I feel so weak and powerless right now. This is a good reminder that apart from You I can do nothing of any eternal value. I yield to You and ask You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to resist all temptations and live holy for Your honor. Thank You for this feeling of weakness, so I can depend wholly on You.”

Suppose you are about to do some kind of ministry, but you feel intimidated and inadequate. Instead of backing away from the challenge or trying to muster human confidence, step into it knowing God’s power is going to flow through you as you do. Ask God for a fresh filling of His Spirit as you go into that ministry situation.

Finally, imagine being in a relationship with someone that is difficult to love. Instead of selfishly focusing on where your needs are not being met, embrace your weakness and ask God to fill you with His love for that person. By an act of your will, do loving acts for that person and ask God to supernaturally give you His love for the individual.

Your weakness is the very springboard to experiencing God’s power.

If you are taking to heart what I am saying, you might actually begin to look forward to the next situation in which you feel weak! Embrace your weakness and exchange it for God’s power.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10