"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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Cor 12
I've been dwelling a lot on this verse over the last six months, largely because I've been so awful weak. I've been sick as sick can be, and often right in the midst of the sickness is when the Lord shows up and intends for me to do ministry. I hate it because I hate feeling week. I've been a missionary for some time now and frankly, while it isn't perfect, my language is mighty good. I can speak clearly. Communicate well. Speak encouraging words. Share what I've learned from the word. Even my prayers in the native tongue are more and more eloquent (yes I know this is ridiculous). So weakness is unsettling.
The first year I was here, back when I couldn't communicate anything more than a very poorly accented "hello", I still saw an outrageous amount of fruit. I was weak and God showed up because He had to, because I was too incompetent to do anything but stare at my friends and smile unless He was at work. He showed because I needed Him to.
Now I depend on myself much too much. Though, I have grown to see things like colds as opportunities to watch the Lord do significant things. And when my friends are sick, or otherwise weak for another reason, I almost look down at them for feeling weak instead of strong in the Lord.
I know, I'm an ass sometimes (read: frequently).
Then this week something new happened. I got an absurdly painful infection right in my manhood. (One of the advantages of blogging psudonymously is this is easier to admit when you don't know me). And you know what this infection did? Well, for one thing it didn't offer me opportunity to minister out of weakness. In fact it didn't hardly give me opportunity to stand up. If I wasn't laying down I was in excruciating pain.
Last night I got up from the couch to walk to the bedroom and I had to lay in the fetal position for about 4 minutes just to overcome the urge to cry.
This is a different kind of weakness. A much bigger weakness. I have no idea what Paul was struggling with (his "thorn"), maybe he couldn't even walk around without experiencing overwhelming pain. But I do know pain like this has certainly given me an appreciation for people who live with it chronically. It's also awaken me to my mortality a bit (though I still think of myself as young and invincible).
I'm trying to lean in the direction of looking forward to aging and the ways the Lord will use me despite my frailty. I don't know if I'm getting there though.
But I think I see the point. My strength won't last forever. And the sooner I can get good at leaning on the Lord instead of my own competence, the sooner the Lord will be accomplishing God sized things through me. I don't want to be 70 and falling apart before I start leaning on the Lord again.
That said, it sure feels like I'm standing in a gym looking at a heavy barbell I think I might just be able to lift, and the Lord's saying, "I got this." It's hard to let Him sometimes, but other times my balls hurt so bad I can't stand up to try. And then I stand back (or lay back, as the case may be) and watch God pick up the whole gym.
Goodness our strength is pathetic, our foolishness blinding, and the Lord's grace is outrageous. Praise the Lord for the good news of our undeserved salvation, for the gospel.