I do that. A lot. Know why? Because I’m weak–and I know it!
This was my first lesson in Christian living. I’d always played the great fixer-upper, repairing crises, rescuing situations (and often people I shouldn’t have). But after I once prayed, “I believe; help Thou my unbelief,” God answered by giving me more than I could “fix up” anymore, thus bringing me to the end of my resources, my “strength,” my self. That’s how I learned to look to Him for strength I couldn’t find in me. And that’s when I also started seeing amazing things happen, even through helpless, inadequate me!
Thus I came to understand what God meant when He told Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness,” and what Paul meant when he declared, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10). Those words of Paul’s became my life verse, right then!
Only when we humans quit trying to accomplish things in our own power and yield instead to God’s working in and through us do we free up the way for Him to glorify Himself in our circumstances. Anyone who knows us will realize that a power greater than our own must have accomplished whatever great feat took place. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 tells us God carries out mighty accomplishments through obviously weak subjects; God chooses “the weak things of this world to shame the strong.”
That must be why (at least in part), that God chose a helpless infant for the personage Christ would assume on earth. To birth Him into the world, God chose a vulnerable young woman (many say just a teenager). For circumstances, God chose material dearth (which Mary and Joseph’s offering in Luke 2:24 evidences: the kind allowed for folks who couldn’t afford bigger and better (Lev 12:6,8, NIV)). And soon His infant vulnerability became starkly clear, when powerful King Herod, ordered all the Jewish babies under two years old to be killed. Large numbers died. But Jesus escaped. And by what means? By mighty military troops or politically powerful parents? Neither. By the intervention of God and the involvement of angels. By a word in a dream to Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and strike out fast for Egypt.
So, should I try to be strong? Nope! The thing to do instead is to look to God and His strength, to call on Him to manifest His power and glorify Himself through me, as He perfects that power in my obvious weakness.
Let’s ponder this principle of God’s strength in weakness as we draw near now to Christmas Day: the weakness of a baby, of a family of small means and influence, of humbling circumstances–God’s choices for the promised Messiah’s appearance on earth.
Let us recognize our own weakness. And let us see it as the potential it is for God’s glory to shine forth as obvious, as He accomplishes in and through us things we ourselves cannot.