Faith Column: Embrace your weaknesses as God does
Every one of us has weaknesses. There are physical, emotional, relational, financial and intellectual weaknesses. There are things your body can’t do. Some of us even have fashion weaknesses. We have all different kinds of weakness.
The real issue is not “Do I have weaknesses?” but “What am I going to do with my weaknesses?” What we normally do is deny them, defend them, excuse them, resent them and, most of all, hide them — we don’t want anybody to see our weaknesses. Then God comes along and says, “You know what I want to do with your weaknesses? I want to use them.” That doesn’t make sense to us; we think God only wants to use our strengths.
The way you think God should work is often the exact opposite of the way He really works in life. He says, “I don’t want to work around your weaknesses. I don’t want to work in spite of your weaknesses. I want to work through your weaknesses!”
God purposely works through weak people. Why? Because it shows His power. God is not impressed with strength, we are.
• Zechariah 4:6b (KJV) Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Most of us are not extraordinary people. We don’t have bodies like models. We don’t have extraordinary intellect. We’re just normal, ordinary, average people. God says, “That’s OK, because I don’t choose to work through natural strength. I choose to work through natural weakness so that My power can shine through.”
When we talk about weakness, we’re not talking about sins or character flaws that you can change (such as overeating, impatience, greed, laziness).
Weakness is any limitation in my life that I inherited or cannot change. There are all kinds of limitations like that.
• 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NCV) We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us.
The thing about clay pots is that they break easily; they are not indestructible. But more than that, every clay pot has inherited design flaws and is imperfect. We are just ordinary containers, but we have a great God. Someone wrote a book entitled, “God Uses Cracked Pots.” You’re the kind of person God wants to use.
How can I use my weaknesses?
1. Admit my weaknesses
The starting point is to stop pretending you’ve got it all together. Because you don’t — nobody does. Stop hoping that your weaknesses will go away if you just ignore them. Stop making excuses or blaming others for your weaknesses. You’ve tried all that, and it hasn’t worked. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Just admit that you have weaknesses.
2. Be grateful for my weaknesses
“You’ve got to be kidding! I want to come to church and take a magic pill to get rid of all my weaknesses. I don’t want you to tell me to be grateful for them — I want to be free from all of them.”
a) It guarantees God’s help.
GOD: 2 Corinthians 12:9a (LB) But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.
PAUL: 2 Corinthians 12:10b (LB) For when I am weak, then I am strong — the less I have, the more I depend on him.
If you’ve prayed repeatedly for God to take something away and He hasn’t, it’s probably a weakness. He might be saying, “Why in the world would I take it away? If you could solve all your problems and meet all your needs, how much would you depend on Me?”
b) It causes me to value others.
One of the dangers of strength is that it breeds an independent spirit. If I don’t have any weaknesses in my life, I tend to think, “I don’t need anybody!” But God made us to value one another.
One of the biggest lies in our society is that significance is the same thing as prominence. We tend to think that if you’re well known, then what you have to say is very important. But you can be a celebrity and be living a trivial life.
• 1 Corinthians 12:22 (LB) And some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary.
You make a strong rope not by making one solid cord but by putting a lot of strands together. That’s the value of unity and the value of a church family.
• Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
d) It gives me a ministry.
God puts you on earth not just to live for yourself but to help other people. Your greatest ministry will flow out of your weaknesses. Your greatest life message is going to come out of your deepest hurt. The very thing that caused you the most grief and pain, God can use as a message to other people to encourage them. The thing you’re most embarrassed about, the thing you’re most ashamed of, the thing you don’t want anybody else to know about — God wants to use that to encourage other people.
Pain sensitizes us to the hurts of others. If you want to have a Christ-like ministry, that means sometimes other people are going to be helped, encouraged and even healed by the wounds in your life. Jesus Christ received wounds in his body and we all benefited from it!
• 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT) He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
When you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, you uniquely are equipped to help them through their problems. God never wastes a hurt.
Whenever you go out and share your strength, which always creates competition. But whenever you share your weakness, which creates community. Vulnerability is the key to intimacy and fellowship.
God always uses weak people. He turns weakness into strength.
Tony Bohrer is the pastor at Apostolic Lighthouse Church.