Strength & Weakness
You might remember I wrote a blog at the start of the year titled “Peaceful Strength”. In it I outlined some spiritual work I had done and that God had shown me a Peaceful Strength in Jesus’ actions. That is Jesus in the wilderness, as he dealt with the devil, hunger and thirst. Since then, I have gone on a bit of a journey to understand what it means to live that out.
Actually living out what is in the Bible, has always been the tricky part for me. Being able to understand what I’m reading, understanding how it applies to each situation I’m in and how to exercise enough self-control to actually do it. Just a couple of small things to work out.
I had a situation recently, in which I was feeling pretty frustrated with a decision someone had made and I felt it wasn’t fair. I was sitting there thinking about all the reasons why this wasn’t a decision that should have been made, how I was perfectly justified in feeling annoyed and upset. In the mean time I was struggling to engage with other things that were going on, I was stuck in a bit of a loop. But I was justified! A justified loop?
The puzzling thing I have found in these situations, is that quite often is doesn’t matter how right I am. It doesn’t matter in terms of the interpersonal outcome I get but sometimes, the more right I am the worse the outcome. Why? Well, I think I may have figured some of that out. I think it is because power wrought through my own sense of justice, tends to be a bit dehumanizing, a bit-self focused and a bit over the top. But, power wrought through weakness, tends to be a bit different.
So as I sat there, feeling stuck in a loop, feeling like I needed to speak my “truth”. I realised that as a matter of fact, I felt defeated, out of control and weak. I didn’t feel strong, I didn’t feel like I had a good grip on things. In that moment, 2 Corinthians 12:9 came to mind. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.
This verse is one of those verses, that I don’t think I’ll every fully realise in my life. I think that is because of how layered and how deeply it speaks to the human condition, of being made by God and living in a fallen world. So, as I thought about this, I admitted to myself that I felt weak and that I felt powerless to cause the change I wanted. That, I knew acting while feeling frustrated has almost no chance of getting the outcome I wanted. Then, in that moment, about fifty percent of the frustration dropped away and I felt much more at peace. I started to be able to reengage with what was going on around me, I felt a level sense of strength start to appear and I realised that some semblance of “Peaceful Strength” had started to show up.
Reflecting on that now I can see that owning my own weakness and admitting it, was what brought the peaceful strength. Admitting that my own power wasn’t useful in this moment and that God’s power was what I needed.
Learning to exercises this muscle of self-admittance is going to be quite the job. But, I’ve committed this year to finding more peaceful strength. And, I feel like I have to remind myself, that to even exercise this muscle, I need to continue to rest in my weakness.