July 21, 2022
Exercising Different Strengths When We Feel Weak
ELIZABETH LAING THOMPSON
Lee en español
"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)
I rush into a mirrored room filled with women, all prepping for the exercise class to begin. Which will be in approximately 40 seconds.
"Excuse me. Sorry, oops - sorry." I stumble through a maze of yoga mats, searching for an open space. I feel a roomful of eyes on me, and for a heartbeat I consider slinking back out the door, sparing myself the humiliation of being That Annoying Late Girl. But the instructor is still fiddling with her headset, and I really need to exercise, so I decide to swallow my pride and stay.
I slouch up to two women, so embarrassed I barely manage to make eye contact. "I'm sorry," I whisper, "but can I please squeeze in between you?"
Both women smile and spring into action. "Of course!" says one, bending over to make room between their mats.
"Take my weights," says the other, already sprinting across the room to get another set.
Within seconds, I'm set up between them, and they're tossing me conspiratorial, we-did-it grins. We exchange groans of misery throughout the class, and afterward we swap names. As I pack up, a happy warmth spreads through me, and it's not just the exercise endorphins.
It's the feeling of ... grace. Of being forgiven a blunder and welcomed with a smile. And, surprisingly, it's a feeling of belonging.
On the drive home, I think about how God loves to turn worldly wisdom on its head. I recall the Apostle Paul's words about a time when he begged God for relief from a weakness, but God told him to embrace it:
"But [God] 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).
I don't like feeling weak. It makes me feel ... well, weak. Inferior. Incompetent. Needy. I vastly prefer feeling strong, self-sufficient, responsible. But God says weakness is a place where He can work, a place where He - and His people - can shine. When we are weak, then we are strong.
That day in my gym, I saw that Paul’s revelation from God was right. (Of course it was right.) Owning my weakness allowed me to experience a moment of grace - and more, a meaningful moment of connection. Admitting my weakness did not lead to rejection, as I had feared, but to relationship.
If you struggle to ask for help, I pray you'll join me in embracing God's upside-down wisdom. When we feel weak, we have an opportunity to exercise different kinds of strength: The courage to admit need and invite help. The humility to lean on others' strengths. Our vulnerability allows God to strengthen us, not just with support and encouragement from others but with relationship and growth in Him.
What do you need today? Prayers? Advice for a tricky situation? Accountability for a persistent temptation? Or do you need support in life's daily burdens - laundry, meals, grocery shopping?
When we allow others to support us in our weakness, we allow them to honor God with their gifts. They honor God as they pray for us, encourage us and serve us. In those moments, we see the body of Christ at its finest - at its strongest.
Father, thank You for redeeming our weaknesses and needs. Please help me to humbly invite and accept the help I need from You and from others. Help me to embrace Your strength instead of seeking strength within myself. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
FOR DEEPER STUDY
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (NIV)
How have you experienced connection with other people and with God in your moments of weakness? Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2022 by Elizabeth Laing Thompson. All rights reserved.