So, let’s get back to our weakness. Most of us are well aware of how we fail to measure up to our own standards, let alone God’s. But again, Jesus knows this, too. And again, His concern is not with our failures but with our willingness to follow. He will attend to the things He’s called us to. We simply need to show up, and then follow.
Sounds simple enough. The problem is, we don’t do it. We don’t think Jesus will do what He’s promised. Why should He? Look at us.
It’s easy for many of us to look ourselves and think we’re useless to God. We’re still struggling with all the sins and temptations we addressed back in Weeks 1 and 2, for crying out loud; what business do we have even thinking about being useful to God?
But remember Friday’s passage from 1 Corinthians: God chose the foolish to shame the wise… the weak to shame the strong… the low and despised, even things that aren’t, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no-one could boast in His presence. God chose you, in your weakness—you could almost say because of your weakness. And He wants to use your weakness, and His transformation of it, to display His glory.
However, more often that not, we fly between our pride that we can do everything on our own and our failure that leads us to think we can’t do anything. We’re weak, we’re tempted, we’re overwhelmed and we don’t know what to do about it.
But the Bible is clear that our ongoing weakness and temptation can actually be a pretty good teacher. Here are just a few of the potential lessons our weaknesses can teach us, if we’ll let them:
- We’re not as strong as we think we are.
- We always need God to carry us through, or at least accompany us as He pushes us along.
- If we’re humble enough to let Him, God will carry us through, because…
- God is far stronger than we give Him credit for.
As I’ve been writing this book, I’ve really come to appreciate Peter more. As brilliant as that “man out of time” Paul was… as loving and engrossed with Jesus as John was… as assertive as James was… for that matter, even as wonderfully morosely skeptical as my boy Thomas was… I think I’m beginning to understand why Jesus chose Simon to become Peter, “the rock on whom I will build my church.” It’s because he was the most human of the disciples. And humanity was what Jesus came to redeem.
For all the evidence you need of this, look at Peter’s “story arc.” We’ve already hit on a huge paradigm shift at the end of Week 1, what we could call “The Tale of Two Fishing Trips”—his transformation from someone who encountered the Son of God and could only see his sin to someone who encountered the risen Jesus and swam after Him as hard as he could. In between are incredible highs and lows, including the near-simultaneous events of Peter first grasping that Jesus was the Messiah, being informed that he would be the rock upon whom Jesus whom build His church, then being rebuked “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:13-23). You almost imagine Peter kicking the pebbles in front of him and protesting, “Gee, all I was trying to do was protect you, Jesus.”
Peter didn’t yet understand that he was totally incapable of protecting Jesus. And he certainly didn’t grasp it either when he tried to protect Jesus again during His arrest in the garden. Jesus once more rebukes him: “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Peter didn’t yet realize that his strength, like Jesus’, came from obeying his Father’s will.
Even after Jesus came back from the dead, Peter was subject to relapses of fear and bravado, as is evident when in Galatians 2:11-21, Paul has to rebuke him for skulking away from the Gentiles whom Jesus had already declared clean to Peter (Acts 10:9-47).
But eventually, Peter learns to stop forcing it, and trust that God will do what He intends to do when He intends to do it. We see the evidence of that in his final letter: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
We are lifetime projects. The sooner we realize it, the better. So let’s lay down our weakness, lay down our own tools that don’t work anyway, and allow Jesus to be the one who builds us up.
Lay It Down Today
So, what are your weaknesses, and what is God trying to teach you through them? After all, God allowed them in your life. And God wastes nothing.
Spend time meditating on your “weak spots,” and what God’s trying to teach you through them. Your response might look like one of the bullet points above, or it might be something else. But bottom line: How can God’s strength be manifested through (or despite) your weakness? Ask God to begin to manifest His strength in the midst of your weakness, and to help you to see and rely on His work in your life.
Also (more on this tomorrow), begin thinking about whom you can share about your weakness with—a Christian friend or mentor who can be trusted with this information.
Note: Meditating doesn’t mean “indulging.” In fact, if your mind begins drifting toward things it shouldn’t, stop meditating right then and start praying, because you already know what God needs to transform, and how badly.