I know a beautiful young woman who has struggled with an alcohol addiction for years. The ‘life of the party’ in a culture that loves to party, she was seen as the fun girl everyone wanted to be around. Slowly and very surely, the addiction took over, and drinking was no longer just a party favor, but a nightly thing. She almost lost her marriage, job, and family over it. But looking up from the bottom of a highball glass, she reached beyond her impediment and found Christ reaching down to her. Not only did he restore her sobriety, but he also kept her family intact. God’s strength comes into its own in our weakness.
The apostle Paul had an impediment that he wrote about in his letter to the Corinthians. He understood this to be a handicap, and it was so troublesome that he asked God to remove it. It was distracting, it slowed him down, and in his mind, it prevented him from fully serving God. But eventually, he realized that his weakness was a gift:
2 Corinthians 12:10 The Message (MSG)
“7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!”
One of the things I greatly appreciate about this passage is that he recognizes Satan’s activity in trying to get him to think that his impediment was larger than life, and a reason to stop sharing the gospel. But Paul overcame that, and God shaped his thinking about it in a hurry. Still, Paul desired for the handicap to be removed:
“At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
So let’s just linger there for a moment. “My grace is enough; it’s all you need.”
Do you believe that? In the depths of your despair, at the bottom of your rock, do you believe that? God is telling you that at your lowest, he performs at his highest. He will use your impediment, your handicap, your weakness, your mistakes, and even your sin, to draw you closer to him, and to save you….from yourself.
“Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
What’s your impediment? Anger? Resentment? Arrogance? The need to control everything? Lust? Adultery? Satan is having a field day with your weakness, exploiting it for his own good and holding you down with an ironclad boot on your neck. He would love it if you never got up again.
So get up.
Push it all away and reach for Jesus. In that desperate moment of weakness, he will be the only one reaching down to lift you up. It is precisely then that your weakness allows Christ’s strength to move in and take over. And like Paul, the weaker you get, the stronger you will become.
Just get up.
Photo by Jay Paterno.