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. 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. [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)]
Well, I can’t say that I do – delight in my weaknesses (or, as far as that goes, in insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties). In truth, I find it so much easier to write about God’s word than to live it. While I may accept God’s word in theory, pray about it, try to act in line with it, and even write about it, my weakness (one among many) becomes clear when I must actually put my faith into practice. In the last month, I’ve written several devotions about keeping Christ in Christmas, trusting God, keeping priorities straight over the holidays, staying calm, and finding peace. So, with a shipping deadline looming, what was my first reaction when faced with a list of family members to whom I wanted to give gifts but had no idea of what to purchase? Complaint, panic and tears! In fact, I considered becoming Jewish for the month of December until I realized that, instead of just one day of Christmas presents, I’d have to find eight days’ worth of Hanukkah gifts. I quickly abandoned Judaism and wondered about temporarily becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. That way I could skip everything from Thanksgiving through New Year’s (including the three December birthdays). With my luck, however, I’d be in a car accident and need a transfusion; besides, I love birthday cake and singing Christmas carols! Of course, I’m just joking—I’m not about to abandon Christ over Christmas! In spite of the words I’d written for the past month’s devotions, however, I felt anything but calm and peaceful and was having a hard time finding any joy in celebrating Christ’s birth. No, I can’t say that I delight in my weaknesses; in fact, I wish I didn’t have any of them.
Nevertheless, along with being incredibly humbling, those moments of weakness are opportunities for real glory moments with God. Our failures remind us that we’re nowhere near finished and still have much to learn—we’re simply works in progress. Our weaknesses challenge us to think and act in a way that recognizes God is in every situation. It’s recognizing our insufficiency that truly reveals God’s all-sufficiency. When we finally admit, “God, I can’t do this alone!” we open our hearts to His presence. When we have to lean on Him, when we finally relinquish control, all of God’s power starts to work in us. When we admit we are weak, when we feel overwhelmed, that’s when the Holy Spirit does His best work in us.
After a pause for prayer and a much needed attitude adjustment, my Christmas preparations continued, joy and peace returned to my heart, Christ returned to Christmas, and everything got done. My prayer became one of thanksgiving for the way God has an uncanny way of reminding me of my weakness and how much I need Him to get me through each and every day. I thanked him for the reminder that, while I am clearly on the right track, I am nowhere near where I should be. Unlike Paul, I’m still not ready to delight in my failures but, like him, I will be thankful for the opportunities to grow stronger in my faith.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. [Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)]