In many ways, I feel as though in the last two and a half years I have been in a school of weakness; yet sometimes I think I may still be in kindergarten! Becoming a new parent and raising a child with special needs has caused me to recognize my own weaknesses and limitations in ways potentially nothing else could have. Observing the weaknesses in my young son over the months and now years has taught me more about the kindness of God and His unconditional love for weak human beings. The lessons, though still elementary, have been invaluable.
I have so many thoughts spinning right now with what direction I should take in writing, so I guess I will go with what's been right in front of me. This last month especially I feel like God has been highlighting weakness to me on so many levels. He is inviting me to embrace my weakness without shame and to completely rely on His love and strength. Near the end of last month our church embarked on a 21 day Daniel fast (no meats, sweets, or choice foods), and a handful of us met nightly to pray and seek the Lord. We were fasting to see breakthrough on many levels: in our personal lives, in our church, in our city, in our nation, and even around the globe. As we came night after night feeling more physically and emotionally weak from the fasting, one thing became undeniably clear—we have NOTHING apart from Jesus. Our need of Him is so deep, so far reaching into every sphere and pocket of life. There is nothing we have to bring to Him that He didn't first give to us, even our love for Him (see 1 John 4:19).
My physical sense of weakness was increasingly heightened before, during and now even after the fast. Days before the beginning of our fast, I had an unexpected re-occurrence of what I had thought was severe acid reflux—a condition that has plagued me off and on since Benjamin's birth. Over the next few weeks I had a handful of episodes that left me screaming in pain on the floor, in addition to daily feeling at least some level of discomfort every time I ate. Near the end of the fast I discovered through a series of events, including an ER visit, that I had been misdiagnosed for the last two years. While I had been treating myself for acid reflux, my gallbladder was filling up with more and more stones, to the point that almost anything could trigger an attack. I consulted with a surgeon, and a week after completing our fast I went in for out-patient laproscoptic surgery to have my gallbladder removed. That was four days ago, and I am still very weak physically. Shawn has been caring for me and Benjamin, as I am not able to pick up our son yet. My mom is on an airplane as I write this to help me for the week since Shawn has to return to work. Friends have offered prayers, encouragement, and food while I walk out my recovery time. The physical limitations and discomfort have been frustrating, but again I am faced with my own weakness and my need for Jesus and for the Body of Christ.
I have been realizing more and more how quickly I try to rely on my own strength and ability, my own understanding of things, and my own emotions and opinions, which can so easily be swayed. Physical wellness impacts emotional wellness, and both can fluctuate so quickly. I am becoming more and more convinced that I can't rely on what I feel but only on what God's Word says, for His Word is unchanging. Yet, I so often look to myself or others when faced with a need instead of acknowledging my complete barrenness apart from Jesus. He wants me to come to Him in my weakness and vulnerability, to throw myself on His mercy and grace and All-Sufficiency. How easily I forget that He loves weak, powerless human beings, and He rises to show Himself strong on our behalf. Indeed, it is in the very acknowledgment of my complete lack that He steps in with His complete abundance. All He wants is that I trust Him absolutely, yielding myself to His ways that are always superior to my own.
I learn so much watching Benjamin. He doesn't worry or fear but has a simple trust that Mommy and Daddy are going to take care of him. He doesn't consider his inabilities to meet his own needs and try to figure out how to get around them. He doesn't question where his provision is coming from or try to figure things out before they happen. He lives in the present moment, confident that he is loved and cared for, free to be himself and to learn and grow. He demonstrates to me day in and day out the simplicity of a child's trust. I was recently reading in a book called The Seeking Heart by the 17th century Fenelon and was struck by the following:
“Your only task is to bear the weakness of your body and mind. Strength is made perfect in weakness. You are only strong in God when you are weak in yourself. Your weakness will be your strength if you accept it with a lowly heart...
Trusting in God is a simple resting in God's love, as a baby lies in its mother's arms...
The point of trusting God is not to do great things that you can feel good about, but to trust God from a place of deep weakness. Here is a way to know if you've actually trusted God with something—you will not think about the matter any longer, nor will you feel a lack of peace.”
Like the apostle Paul, I want to know in reality, not just in theory, that His power truly is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). The all-powerful, eternal God promises to dwell with those who are contrite and lowly of heart, who recognize their absolute need of Him (Isaiah 57:15). I want to live so close to His heart. It's time to know and embrace the power of weakness!