In Leadership Journal, Pastor Ben Patterson wrote about an experience he had one time that taught him about strength in weakness:
In the spring of 1980, I was suffering great pain from what was diagnosed as two herniated discs in my lower back. The prescription was total bed rest. But since my bed was too soft, the treatment ended up being total floor rest. I was frustrated and humiliated. I couldn’t preach. I couldn’t lead meetings. I couldn’t call on new prospects for the church. I couldn’t do anything but pray.
Not that I immediately grasped that last fact. It took two weeks for me to get so bored that I finally asked my wife for the church directory so I could at least do something, even if it was only to pray for my congregation. Note: It wasn’t piety but boredom and frustration that drove me to pray. But pray I did, every day for every person in my church, two or three hours a day. After a while, the time became sweet.
Toward the end of my convalescence, anticipating my return to work, I prayed, “Lord, this has been good, this praying. It’s too bad I don’t have time to do this when I’m working.”
And God spoke to me, very clearly. He said, “Stupid (that’s right, that was his very word. He said it in a kind tone of voice, though). You have the same twenty-four hours each day when you’re weak as when you’re strong. The only difference is that when you’re strong you think you’re in charge. When you’re weak you know you aren’t.”
The pastor learned an important lesson about true strength. He found power when he was suffering. The power he gained was strength in prayer. But it could only be received by experiencing God’s grace in time of need. He couldn’t find such power when he relied on his own strength.
This story reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:9. “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,” (New International Version, NIV).
There are three benefits you can receive whenever you are going through those weak moments in your life:
(1) God’s grace is sufficient for you. God saves you by his grace, he enables you by his grace, and he empowers you by his grace. In other words, you can’t succeed without God’s grace. It is sufficient for every challenge you face. That’s why you can boast in the Lord. Jeremiah the prophet recorded the Word of the LORD: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD,” (Jer. 29:23-24, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
(2) In your time of weakness God’s grace is made clear. God did not remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh even though Paul prayed earnestly three times that it be removed. Did God just like to see Paul suffer? No. In truth, God did not remove Paul’s affliction because he was in the process of developing Paul’s spiritual character. In your time of weakness, God is developing your spiritual character, too. Through God’s grace, your worship will be deepened, your witness will be sharpened, and your faith will be heightened.
(3) Your weakness reminds you of your dependence on God. The human ego likes to think that you can make it on your own. Like the song that Frank Sinatra made popular, it’s natural to think, “I did it my way.” But when God allows affliction, disappointment, failure, or any kind of loss, reality sets in. You realize you can’t do it your way. It’s only by God’s way that you can overcome. You supply the faith, he supplies the power. Only his power will make you effective. Only his grace will set you free.
The Power that God gives through Christ will make you strong even when you are in your weakest moment. Just like Ben Patterson realized, prayer is the key to your strength if only you would take the time to ask the Lord for it.
Here is a worship song that starts out, “You are my strength when I am weak…” Jesus, the Lamb of God, makes it possible. http://youtu.be/RYxJc0PTXiY
Good News to YOU!
P.S. Dear reader: Thank you for reading my posts. I welcome any comments you wish to make. I am delighted to know how my articles may have been a blessing to you.