Thursday, February 7, 2013

Power and Weakness

I recently had a client comment on how he wished God would take away his deep hurt and heal him completely of his mental illness. This individual did not like the feeling of powerlessness which left him in a constant state of hopelessness and depression. Many of us find ourselves at times identifying with this client. We by nature as human beings recoil from any situations or circumstances that lead us towards feelings of discomfort. We like to be in control of our lives. We like the idea of being "captain of our ship, masters of our fate." However, those who truly claim Jesus as Lord and Savior come to understand that God needs to be in control. This is a life long lesson that we continue to learn over and over again. It may not feel comfortable to yield ourselves to a Being that we cannot see or touch but the results of doing so are remarkable! The Scriptures give many examples of what seems like a paradox in which power flows from weakness. Many of us are familiar with Paul's request from the Lord to be delivered from his"thorn in the flesh." Scholars have debated about what that "thorn" could be but needless to say it was so unpleasant that Paul pleaded three times for relief. The word "plead" in the Greek carries the idea of summoning someone to come along side and to help. In fact, Paul states that he was "tormented" by this condition. One would think that Paul's dramatic conversion and tremendous ministry to the Gentiles would earn him special privileges of grace. However, the Lord's response to him was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:8a) Paul went on to declare that he would therefore boast in his weaknesses and concluded by stating,"For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 2:10) It is not typical for us to join weakness and power in the same sentence but God does His greatest work when we allow Him to call the shots. For those of us who grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, we saw a real life example of power flowing from perceived weakness. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able through non violence (perceived weakness) to initiate a powerful change for black people as well as many poor and oppressed. Mahatma Ghandi through a hunger strike (perceived weakness) was able to bring about a powerful change in India. The greatest example was Jesus Christ whose love and compassion (perceived weakness) for the so-called "sinners" in His day gave those same oppressed people the power to believe in the Living God who cared about their needs. Furthermore Jesus' death (perceived weakness) unleashed the power of God through the resurrection so that humanity could be saved from sin and death. I am learning in this current season of my life that God does not always change circumstances from without but I can experience a peace within when I see the power of God break through obstacles that others seek to place in my path. As a woman in pastoral ministry, many doors have been closed to fully using the gifts that God gave me. However, instead of pushing back, I can rest in knowing that what others perceive as weakness, God will make perfect by the power of His Holy Spirit. I cannot heal my client's wounds but I can point Him to the One who is able to give him sufficient grace so that God's power may be made perfect in this client's weakness. Don't let the world's definition of weakness distract you from the power you possess in Christ. "You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
Pastor Sheree

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