What do you do in weakness? I mean the kind of weakness that feels debilitating? The kind of weakness that overtakes you and makes you question even the sign of strength in you.
You feel it deep down. You know it well. It’s real and shameful. You feel worthless. Everything becomes a struggle. Waking up hurts a little more than it did the day before. Food has lost taste – if you even feel like eating at all. The sunshine outside on a cool summer day looks nice, but the joy of the breeze seems zapped by the devil himself. God is still there. You are still his. But it hardly feels like it. Your mind says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” and your heart says, “Can’t you see, you dummy? Everything is awful.”
What do you do when life feels like this? When weakness is the air you breathe?
I don’t believe what I’m asking is uncommon to the Christian. It’s not clinical depression. It’s just the weightiness of life in this broken world. It’s the common earnings of sinful humanity. So what do you do?
The struggle is real, as they say. And the cure is obvious: God. But how do you get there? How is your faith restored in the Lord, who seems so far away, when the presence of your dearest earthly loved one hardly strengthens your worsening heart? It’s almost like you need someone inside your heart.
Wait a minute…
Remember what Jesus told his disciples in John 16? “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7) What must the disciples have thought as Jesus said that it would be better for them for him to go? How could it be better that Jesus leave? He must be mistaken. Doesn’t he understand how much we need him here? Of course he does. Don’t you understand how much you need him here? But where is “here”? It’s more spiritual than you realize. It’s more miraculous than the incarnation. It’s union. And it’s yours in Christ.
Jesus left his disciples (and us all) without his physical presence because the physical presence could only take us so far. What we need is more than a Jesus walking beside us. We need a Jesus living within us.
When I’m weak, I feel the weight of it as if it is sitting on my heart. But that weight, though real it is, cannot quench the Holy Spirit dwelling there. Like the bolder over the mouth of Jesus’ grave, the weight of all the weakness in the world will give way to the risen Christ. What I find is that the weakness isn’t gone, it’s there, but it’s just not the focus. Where the quick sand of my own failure was overtaking me the everlasting arms of the Father was rescuing me.
My weakness is real, but it isn’t damning anymore.
My weakness is present, but not my future, not as long as Christ reigns.
My weakness is real weakness, but not paralyzing, not in the bright light of Christ’s accomplishment. Remember, this is the redeemer we’re talking about.
My weakness, which is the result of Original Sin, is, in the way only God can orchestrate, a gift. I serve out of it. I walk with a happy limp – without shame or covering– because now my story is not one of how I’ve failed to measure up but how Jesus is raising me up. He’s creating out of ashes the reality that should have always been. Somehow my weakness is now a useful tool in the hand of the redeemer, giving me the ability to serve others who do not yet know him.
That’s your story, too. Your weakness – whatever it is, in all its fashions and forms – is the temple in which Jesus has made his home in the Spirit. Your weak heart that will someday fail to beat has the song of the resurrection on repeat. You’re weak, yes. You may be falling, true. You might even be despairing, sure. But every great story has the hint of evil and danger. The hero is always weakest just before victory. The cross came before the crown. In the world of redemption that God saw fit to create death on a cross precedes resurrection glory.
So my weak friend, hand your weakness over to the God who upholds the universe and watch him do wonders with it in his mighty hands. Your weakness is no match for his strength, for he is good and his steadfast love will endure forever.
Be weak and needy, for he is the savior of such men and women.