At the start of the year, like all prophetic believers, we asked what the word of the Lord was for 2021. I started the year with our three days of churchwide prayer and fasting, followed by 18 days of prayer – all pumped up and excited to hear what the Lord had to say.
Every new year, I’d resolve to do something different – like learning a new skill, a sport or try something new and outside my comfort zone. In 2018, I tried open water diving, under the persuasion of a pastor friend. I was almost scared to death, if not for a good and experienced dive master. I went mountain climbing in 2019, injured my knee and took a year to recover with the help of a physical trainer.
Last year, during the lockdown, I picked up cooking, learning from my mother-in-law and finally found my sweet spot. This year, I decided to be adventurous and took on a new sport. And it’s been tough – my coach highlighted all my weaknesses and required me to work on the muscles I didn’t even know existed. And here I am, starting the new year with prayer and fasting, in weakness and humility.
1. Embrace Your Weakness
The Bible does not spin the flaws and weaknesses of its heroes. Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Noah got drunk. Jonah was a racist. Jacob was a liar. Elijah burned out. Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal. Thomas doubted. Peter rebuked God! Paul had a thorn in his flesh, and Timothy had ulcers. And all these people sent the same message – that every human being on earth, regardless of his gifts and strengths, is weak, vulnerable, and dependent on God and others.
Weakness drives us to humility before God and others like little else. The pressure to present an image of ourselves as strong and spiritually ‘together’ hovers over most of us. We feel guilty for not measuring up, for not making the grade. We forget that not one of us is perfect and that we’re all sinners.
When we embrace our weakness, we empathise with others.
Ever wondered why Jesus, after His resurrection in His glorified body, chose to reveal Himself to His disciples over meals and prepared breakfast for them? (John 21). It’s very comforting, especially for those who have a weakness in their stomach, to hear him say, “Come, have breakfast” and not “Come, let’s fast!”. Perhaps He knows the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so He can come and dine with us (Revelation 3:20).
2. Strengthen Your Weakness
‘Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees.’ Isaiah 35:3
My daughter, who’s just entered secondary school, said to me, “John Maxwell said to develop your strengths, not your weaknesses. Can I drop Chinese?”. I said, “No, we’ll get help instead.” And I can fully relate to her pain and struggles as if I’m working hard on my weak left hand.
Common wisdom in leadership practice is to delegate areas of weakness to those who have strong skills in that area. “Develop your strength, don’t waste time on your weakness”, management gurus advise. While they’re all true, I knew this principle did not apply to me, at least for this season.
Life is not so straightforward, is it? You can’t quit on your marriage or family even though it’s painful, or delegate parenting just because you’re bad at it. If God is putting His fingers on some of your weaknesses, don’t quit! He’ll help you. And in my case, He sent help.
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
3. Celebrate Your Weakness
Sometimes, no matter what we do or try, we may just have to live with the weaknesses (and I’m not referring to your spouse). But we’ve a choice as to how we respond and what we do with them.
Popular motivational speaker Nick Vujicic said, “Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.”
I was reminded of my eldest daughter during her battle with cancer 10 years ago, when the brain tumour had affected her mobility in her right arm and leg. At the age of 7, she loved to draw and her inability to move her right hand had not stopped her from drawing. Instead, she developed the use of her left hand. And within a short time, we saw some of the most amazing pictures she drew using her left hand. We witnessed God’s power perfected in her weakness. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (Passion translation), ”… So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.”
I want to encourage you to embrace, strengthen, and celebrate your weaknesses. The word of the Lord to you is “My grace is always more than enough for you, and My power finds its full expression through your weakness.”