They say being weak is something we must avoid at all costs.
From the time we're small children, we're told we must be strong. We have to be tough. We have to be heroes, victors. And, we're told, we have to develop that superhuman strength on our own. Some positive thinking gurus even claim you can do anything you desire, if you work hard enough at it.
On the surface, it sounds so logical. After all, who wants to be a helpless wimp? It's more fulfilling to do for ourselves. We have to learn to be competent adults, not perpetual children forever depending on our parents.
Except that we take it too far. Sooner or later, everyone encounters a situation they simply can't beat with positive thinking and hard work. Then what?
Then the world's wisest book tells us what to do:
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26, NIV)
The idea of being strong and competent appeals to single people. Single women want to prove they can excel in a man's world, and there's nothing wrong with that. I find it admirable. Single men live and die on their strength; it's how they prove their masculinity.
Being strong brings security. We may be control freaks in our careers, which provides some comfort if our personal life isn't going so well. If we're capable on the job, it makes up for the anxiety we feel off the job. Yeah, we've got it together, alright.
Let's face it. Being single can be overwhelming, especially for single mothers or fathers. There isn't enough time in the day to do everything that needs doing, and nobody can be good at everything. Still, if we admit there's a crack in our facade, there's a danger the whole thing could come tumbling down.
In the Kingdom of God, with its upside-down values, being weak is a virtue.
For Christians, this kind of can-do mentality is pride, and as many of
us are familiar, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before
a fall." (Proverbs 16:18, NIV)
With all the self-help platitudes that get firehosed against us, even we Christians can forget that one of the great principles of the Bible is that we are to depend on God. That goes double for singles, no pun intended.
In the Kingdom of God, with its upside-down values, being weak is a virtue. What's more, it's an absolute necessity because we can't receive God's power until we admit we need it.
Instead of my mistake this time, let's learn from one of the classic blunders of the apostle Paul. As Saul of Tarsus, he was the ultimate take-charge guy. Truth be told, Saul was a bully. Then Jesus literally knocked him off his high-horse. Even after his conversion, Saul, renamed Paul, had to learn this important lesson. Listen to his own account:
But he (Jesus) 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 12:9-10, NIV)
There it is, in the sentence I underlined. Saul was strong in his own strength, but that was pipsqueak strong. Then Paul became weak, and only then did Christ's power flow through him.
That's the path you and I have to follow, single friend. Being weak is the only way we can receive God's grace. We become instruments of his power, but only when we realize that's the only way we can make it.
The missionary Hudson Taylor called it "The Exchanged Life." We exchange our weakness for God's strength. It wasn't just the apostle Paul who did it. Jesus was in constant communion with his Father, drawing instruction and energy from him.
Today, since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but do we depend on him? We're missing the opportunity of a lifetime if we don't.
When you tap into God's power, don't expect to become Superman or Supergirl. You won't start doing miracles—at least not the kind that impress anybody.
No, the real miracle is the quiet but significant change within you. Often your circumstances don't improve, but God gives you the strength to get through them. That's the only way I survived 55 grueling radiation treatments when I had cancer. My situation didn't get better. I still had to do the treatments, but God helped me endure them.
We don't look on enduring as a victory, but it is. When it comes to getting through the death of a loved one, a romantic breakup, a job loss, or any other traumatic event, enduring it and coming out on the other side is nothing short of a miracle. I can tell you that's true because I went through all those things myself.
Life should be more than just enduring hardship, though. We want joy, peace, and a true sense of fulfillment. We won't find them in the world's answers: wealth, fame, and happiness. That's the Prosperity Gospel, and it's a lie.
When you see old, wrinkled, bent-over Christians at church, many of them have a sort of serenity about them. They're the ones who have passed through the fire, so to speak, and they've learned firsthand what Paul discovered: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)
Life isn't easy. The Christian path guarantees that there's a life to come, and things will be perfect in that place. Meanwhile, God is a faithful protector here. I can't explain all the heartache. I have thought long and hard about it in my own life. I do know God sees us through it when we trust him.
So don't be ashamed of being weak. It's God's plan for giving you the greatest power in the universe.