Working with Weakness

by Alexa Hess

Weaknesses. We all have them. Our body aches. We make mistakes. We fail. It is easy for us to ridicule ourselves for our weaknesses. We would much rather be strong people who have it all together all the time. But we forget that God is a God who works with weakness (2 Corinthians 2:19). Throughout Scripture, God uses ordinary people littered with weakness to accomplish His purposes. Even when appointed by God, people in the Bible still doubted their ability to carry out their tasks. Abraham worried about his age (Genesis 17:17), Moses doubted his speaking abilities (Exodus 4:10), Joshua was told multiple times to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6), and the list goes on. In all of these instances, God did not rely on the skill set of the individual. God never chose someone in Scripture who has it all together. Even the ones who seem fit for the task on the surface eventually stumble along the way. Despite their imperfections, sins, and failures, God still used them to fulfill His plan of redemption. Weakness never stops the work of the Lord; through it, God accomplishes His work.

In our own lives, we can be just like biblical characters and doubt God’s calling. The weary mother holds her crying child in her arms and thinks, “I can’t do this.” The burnt-out teacher stands before her buzzing classroom and mutters to herself, “I’m not cut out for this.” The overwhelmed student prepares her college essays and whispers, “I’m not smart enough.” Every day we experience at least one moment of insufficiency. Dwelling on our insufficiencies leads to self-criticism, frustration, and bitterness. We may even find ourselves questioning God, wondering why He would call us to do such a thing when it doesn’t seem like we’re fit for the task. But what if we saw our weaknesses as an invitation to revel in the power of God working within us?

In C.S. Lewis’s book Prince Caspian, the lion Aslan speaks to the young Prince Caspian about his kingly position.

“Welcome, Prince,” said Aslan. “Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?”

“I-I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.”

“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not.”

To find ourselves feeling insufficient is actually a good thing. Our world praises strength and success, but this only encourages a haughty mindset. To believe we are sufficient for the task is to deny the power of God within us. The reality is, none of us are truly sufficient for what God calls us to do. But that is the whole point.

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Paul writes, Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption—in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul also writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Both 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reveal the purpose of weakness: the glory of God. Our imperfections point to His perfection. Our weaknesses point to His power. Our weariness points to His strength. In times of weakness, the grace of Christ is sufficient. This means that it is enough for us. We may not feel sufficient, but because of God’s grace, we are. In fact, without the grace of God, we remain ill-equipped. We may cringe at our weaknesses, but God looks at them and says, “My grace is sufficient.”

For every failure, His grace is sufficient.

For every flaw, His grace is sufficient.

For every struggle with sin, His grace is sufficient.

With every “I can’t,” God’s grace says, “with Me, you can.” When we accept our weaknesses, we will see our imperfections as opportunities to boast in the work of God. In fact, boasting in the Lord is what brings us contentment in our weaknesses. Instead of hiding our weaknesses, we are glad to display them because it causes others to see the power of God working within us and out of us. Through our weakness, God’s power is displayed, and the gospel shines brightly. 

In one of my favorite worship songs, “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me,” there is a line that says, “I labor on in weakness and rejoicing.” As believers, this is what we are called to every day. We can labor on in both weakness and joy, knowing that God works within us. It is His strength that makes us strong. If you feel insufficient today, lean into your weakness instead of away from it. Learn to delight in your weaknesses and see them as opportunities to rejoice in the Lord. God is working with your weakness, and that is a reason to boast.

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