Weakness Is The Way
Next week, the great theologian J.I. Packer will turn 87 years old. Recently he wrote a little book called "Weakness is the Way". I haven’t read it yet, but it sits in a pile awaiting my summer vacation, when I very much look forward to meditating on its truths.
The very title is bracing: who wants to be weak? Who in their right mind would call weakness “the way”?
I fear being seen as weak or incompetent. I fear failure. I don’t want people to reject me - or even worse, to not even notice or pay attention to me. I don’t want to be weak; I want to be strong, in control of the situation, able to handle whatever comes my way.
Therein lies my idolatry. For if I worship “the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” who “does not faint or grow weary,” then I must repent of any illusion of my own competency or strength. Instead, I must turn to and trust in the One “who does not faint or grow weary,” whose “understanding is unsearchable” - for “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:28-29).
Paradoxically, the more I admit my inherent weakness, the greater my strength can become - if in my weakness I learn to look expectantly to the Lord, who shall renew my strength and cause me to mount up with wings like eagles; to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:30-31).
The desire to appear strong is rooted in insecurity - it’s based on the lie that my life depends on my performance.
How liberating it is to rest in the One Whose perfect, sacrificial obedience sets me free from the treadmill of people-pleasing and self-reproach!
When I realize that all my strength lies in Him, then I can embrace my weakness as a means of grace, rather than dreading it and suppressing it. In Christ, weakness is the way.
A couple months back I was at Northwestern Hospital waiting for Kate while she was getting her CT scan, and a dear friend sent me an email with this as the title: “Weakness is the Way.” In it, he gave me these soul-strengthening verses as a balm of comfort. I pass them on to you in hope that you too, my dear friends, will look to Him who is faithful to increase the strength of those who have no might in themselves.
Romans 8:26a. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”
1 Corinthians 1:27b. “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses… . For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
1 Corinthians 2:3. “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.”
1 Corinthians 15:43. “[Our body] is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”
2 Corinthians 11:30. “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 13:4. “For [Jesus] was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”
Your brother, a weak pilgrim on the Way,
Pastor David Sunday
P.S. I’d encourage you to watch this moving video by Packer in which he tells the story behind the book: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/04/15/listen-to-this-weak-mans-testimony/