There we sat, an eclectic bunch with our coffee and chocolate, strangers made friends by the warm hospitality of our gracious hostess. One by one, each woman introduced herself and shared from her heart something insightful, inspiring, or humorous. The more I listened the smaller I felt, my insecurities rising, and my resolve to stay dwindling. Then my hostess friend looked my way and said, “Leanna, tell us who you are.”
Who am I? For a split second my heart was struck with fear, my head swirling with thoughts of failure and inadequacy. I can tell you who I’m not, I thought. I’m not passionate. I’m not inspiring. I’m not eloquent. I’m not . . .
It wasn’t my introverted nature that was to blame for clamming up; it was my bruised pride. I was comparing my life to how I envisioned the others in the group to be, and I came up short. Sharing my story would mean talking about weakness, unsolved problems, and all the things that go along with a chronic illness, and I didn’t want that! I wanted to be done with this weakness stuff, not broadcast it for the entire room.
To be honest, I still resist admitting my limitations and feel frustrated when the day’s plans are hijacked by pain or fatigue. I still battle against withdrawing and keeping everything to myself—my emotions, my pain, my thoughts, and my insecurities.
However, when I remember that my value is set not by my level of energy, passion, or accomplishment but by the Father’s love for me and Christ’s finished work on the cross, I find peace and contentment even in my weakness. This may sound impossible, but like the apostle Paul found, you, too, can come to a place of full trust and surrender in God’s plan when you rest in His grace:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [trial], that it should leave me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8–10).
This is so backward from our way of thinking, isn’t it? We often look for the quick fix in life—the shortest check-out line, a pill for the pain, a thirty-day-guaranteed weight loss plan. We don’t see weakness, struggles, or pain as things to boast in. But God does! He uses our weakness, and He invites us to admit our insecurities, relinquish control, and embrace weakness so that Christ’s strength will flow through us.
Hope When It Hurts
This freedom to be honest before our Maker should also lead to humble transparency before others.
In her book Hope When It Hurts, co-author Sarah Walton says, “As we learn that we’re free to be real with Jesus, we’re able to learn to be real with people around us too. The world doesn’t need to see more people who seem to have it all together; it needs to see people with real struggles, real emotions, and a real hope.”
You don’t need to spill your guts to everyone who says “hello,” but neither should you feel the need to hide your failures or struggles in order to be a good witness. Sharing of the hope within us in the midst of our struggles is the witness! And it’s not just the world that needs to see this real hope in us; the Church needs the reminder as well that life is hard but God is still good.
Weakness is not something to cower from or cover up. Weakness is something to embrace for the sake of Christ, for “when [you are] weak, then [you are] strong.” God’s grace was enough for Paul, it is enough for me, and it is enough for you. In His grace you will find:
- Complete forgiveness, full redemption, and steadfast love.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Ps. 103:2–5).
- Perfect peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6–7).
- Rest for your soul.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28–30).
- Strength, deliverance, and freedom from fear.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isa. 41:10).
How have you seen God’s grace at work in your life? What is hindering you from complete transparency before the Lord? Before others? Are you willingly embracing weakness for the sake of Christ?