Hope your Monday is treating you well. This morning I pushed myself out of bed in time for a sunrise workout (celebrating small victories!!), and for the most part, today’s been like any ordinary day. However, yesterday I had a couple of things that set me thinking, and if you’re game, I’d like to share them with you.
Last night I was feeling a little out of sorts with myself, and spur of the moment decided to go to an evening prayer gathering. During that time, someone shared these verses from Romans 7:
17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
This could not be more true in my life right now. Over the past couple of weeks, I have tried time and time again to align my identity with Christ, to not be defined by performance and expectations but rather by unconditional acceptance. I try my best to live into the idea of being a new creation in Christ. Out with the old, in with the new.
And yet, as I have a cross word with someone or harbor an underlying jealousy or fall into my old bad habits, I find these verses ringing in my ears. You can’t fix this. Your good intentions mean nothing. You’ll never be able to find success in this area of your life.This lives within you. This IS you. This is who you are.
I drove home from that gathering full of thoughts and decided to call my family to try and clear my muddled mind. My brother John, who has been having a rather bad bout with his Chron’s disease right now, has been on a new medication for a few weeks. And…it’s working. He has never felt so good since he had been diagnosed over six years ago. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about the many prayers I’ve said over the past few months for him, along with the support of so many who have joined our family in prayer for his healing.
As I talked with John a little while, he mentioned to me: “I don’t just feel good physically. I feel good in my heart. I feel good with who I am and what I’m doing.”
As happy as I was to hear this, I couldn’t help but think about the hours ago when I had sat in silence and wrestled with my own spiritual condition. I wished to be in a place where I was good with my heart, soul, and mind—a place where I could feel accepted by Christ and live out of that, not constantly strive for His attention like a dog begging for scraps at the dinner table. Again, the voices of condemnation in my mind made me wonder if I’d ever find a place of child-like faith that had first defined my relationship with God—if I was too skeptical to ever make this thing work.
After getting off the phone with my brother, I stopped to take some time to think about a verse that I shared with him that has helped him during this last battle with Chron’s. It’s another one from Paul, found in 2 Corinthians:
9 But he 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.10 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.
The context of this verse is a “thorn in the flesh” that was sent to Paul, “a messenger of Satan to torment me.” In this case, John’s thorn was a physical one. In Paul’s case, it could have been an outspoken critic. These are all things that are out of our control, things that people can sympathize with and pray to be lifted from us.
But…what if those two verses were somehow connected? What if the thorn in Paul’s flesh was Paul? What if it was his own anger, jealousy, or insecurity that was tormenting him, day and night? What if, out of despair, he wrote about the un-winnable battle with sin: “although I want to do good, evil is right there with me”?
What if we do this to ourselves?
I’d like to think that when Paul talks about weaknesses in 2 Corinthians, he means weaknesses of all kinds. Not only adversaries or illnesses, but the weakness within us that comes from living in a fallen world, from carrying a sinful and selfish nature within our very bones. And I’d like to think, that even when we sin against God, even when we disappoint and frustrate him of our own accord, He is still merciful.
If you have a second, I want you to think about something you’re dealing with. Something you’ve brought on yourself. We all have them—bad habits, negative thoughts, etc. Then read that verse again:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Yes, Jeanette. My grace IS sufficient for you. It covers the days when you have your life together and the days when you won’t lift your eyes to me because of your guilt. That sin that you have in your life? Yes, I see it. But I gave my Son for that sin, especially that sin, because I am bigger than it. You can’t overcome, but I have and I will.
Yes, child. My power is made perfect in your weakness.
The rest of that passage goes on to say: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Maybe that’s why I felt called to write this today. I am weak. I am so weak. There are areas in my life that I am so spiritually immature and places that I refuse to even look at because of how bad they are. But if bringing them out into the open means that the power of Christ may restore what I could not, then I am all for it.
The end of that passage reads: “for when I am weak, then I am strong.” There is no strength without admitting that we have weaknesses. There’s no healing unless we admit that we’re hurt. And we all are. We have a soul sickness, one we all try to hide in our own different ways—from others, from ourselves, and from God.
He’s asking us to let Him in, to be weak so He can be strong for us.
If you’re anything like me and have been feeling condemned for something that’s within your control, I want you to take a second and realize that God is using that weakness. He knows it already and has a plan to turn it into something good. See, God offers conviction, not condemnation, and while we are working day by day to become more like Christ it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love us in the process.
God is using our weakness. Our weakness. He’s using what’s inside us just as much as He’s using what’s outside us for His glory and our good. For when we are weak, then we are strong.
I hope you’ll rest in that truth today. Thanks for letting me share.