Strength in Weakness

I'm experimenting a bit with my writing, and trying my hand at this blogs first "series".... which sounds better than "cluster of posts that are vaguely connected in theme".
At least "series" is shorter to write.

My previous post was titled "Raise strong kids in a world that plays it safe".   The tricky part is how we define "strong".   I know I'm not feeling particularly strong right now sitting in a recliner with my broken leg up in a cast, and my house crumbing into messy chaos around me.  I'm learning to rest....only because I have no choice in the matter. God has a funny way of knowing where I need to have some sanctifying work done.

As I continue with the theme of "strength", especially as it pertains to parenting,  I have to take a look at what kind of strength we want our kids to have.

That made me really wonder, and caused me to investigate the concept of strength.  What can make a young person go to the ends of the earth proclaiming a message that could get them killed? What sort of strength causes a person to adopt 9 special needs orphans?  What sort of strength is needed for just the daily grind of a faith filled life?  What can we instill in our kids now that will serve them well later?

After running endless points, and examples, through my mind I realized I needed to just start at the very beginning.

1.  Strength in Weakness   (1 Cor. 12:9)

It may sound absurd or backwards but the starting place for "standing strong", is to know that we are weak.  Bear with me.   Like the song I hear sung in my house on a daily basis "Jesus loves me"  states, in it's simple truth,  "they are weak but he is strong".

We have a whole world telling us how wonderful, strong, and good we are.  We have more than enough people telling us that with God on our team we can soar to new heights, be all that we can be, and get all that we can get.  The problem is that Jesus merely becomes another tool in our tool box of self interest, and self improvement.  So I'm not going to tell you that.
That's what we have Oprah for.

The number one thing our kids need to embrace a risk taking strong faith, that will persevere, is to understand their own weakness.  {Jer 17:5-10}  {Romans 3:10}

I'm sorry if that just burst a carefully constructed little self esteem bubble. Don't come after me with pitch forks, and don't fret, it turns out we don't actually need it anyway.

Don't confuse weakness with lack of value, that's not at all what I'm referring to.

In 2 Cor. 6:3, 2 Cor 11:23, and 2 Cor. 11:30  Paul doesn't make much of his long list of credentials and impressive resume because he knows that his strength is not found in his accomplishments or what he has to offer God.

When we come to Jesus with our hands already full, assured of our own righteous worthiness, we are not in a position to receive grace, and marvel at his strength for us.  Fortunately for Paul, Jesus pursued him and loved him enough to show him exactly how weak he was.  As he sat stunned and blinded on a dusty road, I'm sure his impressive ministry credentials didn't mean much.  In recognizing his own blindness, he was given sight.  Strength in weakness.

As a parent, prone to weakness, this is incredibly good news.

Reading about Pauls difficulties makes me wonder what we would say to another mom who was experiencing that degree of trial, trauma and stress with her children? Would we softly, but condescendingly, tell her she needs to get her act together?  Would we assure her that God wants her to overcome every single weakness, so that her life will be easier and her kids will all fall in line?  Would we declare her victory, as if by sheer force of positive thinking we can change her circumstances?

Paul was weak and subject to trials just like us.  The difference is we do our best, as parents, to hide our weaknesses, and we encourage our children to do the same.  In a society that worships success, achievements, and excellence....we assume that the only thing that can possibly glorify God is Teflon coated, squeaky clean, seamless parenting that produces immaculately behaved, well dressed, honor student, children.   In that atmosphere there is little room for admitting defeat, asking for help, or sharing our struggles.  Basically there is little tolerance for being real.

It seems we have made God too small, and ourselves too big.

The weakness, the failures, and the sins in our family are where we learn that we need grace too.   If we dont' realize that ourselves, we can't teach it to our children.  It is in the mercy of affliction that God teaches us to rely completely on Him.   God's sustaining strength is seen and developed in our weakness, and failures.

Letting go of our pride is a freeing thing.

Whether it feels good at the time or not, it truly is a mercy for God to demolish our confidence on our own sufficiency, and strength...or as the case may be, our own preferred parenting method.

It is only when we arrive at that dreaded place of weakness that we realize the surpassing power of Christ.  ( The great thing about parenting is it provides daily proof of my own weakness, and plenty of pride crushing scenarios.  You parents know what I'm talking about....think a busy Walmart during toddler nap time, with 5 kids. ) 

 This knowledge changes how we view and deal with the inevitable humiliating moments of motherhood, or rebellion, or struggles we have with our children.  They become a chance to lean in that much harder and see God at work.  There is value in being dependent, in being brought low.

  "for when I am weak, then I am strong"

The good news of the gospel, and the work of the Holy Spirit produces a truly humble submissiveness of heart.

That, my fellow parent warriors, is the repentant, desperate, heart that takes hold of the gospel, clings to it, and is regenerated and renewed by God's amazing grace.

That is the place to begin.
Our ultimate strength begins with truly understanding our own frailty, and being able to rest in the sufficiency and strength of the One who stands for us.

Until next time,
Carry on, even in your weakness, brave warrior parents.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. There fore 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 Cor. 12:8-10)

Soli Deo Gloria,


susan nichols said...

I agree 100%. When we get to the point at some time in our life where we are so empty and weak...Finally knowing only God can make it better...that is when God steps in and makes us strong. Once we learn this lesson once we never step away from it again. God is so good. May the One True and Only God...Maker of Heaven, Earth and all that is there in, heal your foot in record time and get you back on your feet, being His hands and feet to your family and others. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Thank you again Carla! Keep sharing your heart. I love hearing encouragement towards Christ from other Christian parents. Helps me get my mind going where it needs to be.