The Work Behind Embracing Weakness
This is the continuation of a series of podcasts started in Episode #659.
The Apostle Paul didn’t just accept his weakness and infirmity and failure. He boasted in it! What a mighty work Paul must have done to so embrace weakness.
And, you know, the illness, I’m not going to say mine, it’s gone. I’m healthy and well but there was… It wasn’t that I was so sick, although a doctor told me recently, “Martha, you could have died” from what I had. And, and I was treated by holistic doctors and, and they would, they, you know… It was months and months of treatment and health and building immunity. And the one thing that was… I was not really sick-sick. After about three weeks and a month they had pretty much gotten the sick feelings taken care of. But I was so wrecked by it and my body was in such a state of collapse that it, it went on.
It took you to a, a very low place of weakness. You had, you had nothing. Even though you didn’t feel sick, even though the, the manifestation of the illness was gone, the leveling of your body and the weakness that you, you were living in, I mean, you couldn’t do anything.
I really, I really couldn’t and it was the most puzzling thing I’ve ever been through in terms of health because I was, I literally was so weak that I couldn’t pick a pen up off the floor. And I kept striving against that weakness. I just hated that weakness. It meant I couldn’t, I couldn’t deal with my own house, I couldn’t put order in my own office. I couldn’t do anything. And I would keep apologizing and say, “I don’t know how to explain it but I can do nothing!”
And of course, my, other people had to come in and, and, and help. But the weakness was what I had the hardest time with. I think I could have been sick and said, “Well, you’re sick!” But I was getting healed, getting better but I still had weakness. And every time the, the, it came time for the doctors to consult about my, my progress I would say… They’d say, “Do you have anything that’s, you know, is going on?” I would say, “I’m so weak.” And they would change the supplements and try this and try that and never could they conquer that terrible weakness.
I wish I could say I boasted in it and praised God for it. I did thank Him reluctantly! But I certainly didn’t boast in it and see it as anything positive. I didn’t even know the purpose. I really didn’t! I was bewildered and had many sessions with Him in my, “What is wrong with me?” And I can always find something. But it didn’t seem to be a chastening, as such. It was; it was a chastening of my flesh because this is the irony: flesh is strength and that’s the problem with flesh.
Nee writes, wrote a book called The Latent Power of the Soul and he talks about the power of the soul which is the flesh in that book and the enormous psychic and other powers of it and that, that’s what has to die; that’s the strength that has to die, the strength of the flesh. We are, we’re saved by grace not of works lest any man should boast. Then he says that we are created for good works that we should do them.
So, but the problem is you can’t have works to do and not have strength to do it, or so it seems. But God is more interested in our dependence than he is on our independence. He’s after the total dependence to pick up the pen off the floor. And it’s, it’s the most frightening…
I was going to say that word – frightening. It is.
It is absolutely terrifying and, and I’m sure I was depressed a lot but I, I really felt like the enemy wanted me to be depressed and I fought that, I think. But, oh, discouraged! I would be so discouraged. And the doctors would say, “But you’ve made a twenty per cent gain in a month and we are pleased.” And I would say, “Well, I’m not!” And so they would very kindly say… I remember the head doctor said, “What would you do if you had strength?” And so I listed everything: gardening, writing, cleaning my house, working in the barn, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! And he, it was like he was saying, “Ok, get it all out. I will listen. And you will know that I’ve heard this is what you want.” And it was very… They were very kind but they would not, they would not tell me it was something wrong because it wasn’t. My progress was measured by inches and I wanted to go by yardsticks.
And Martha, I, I am amazed when I watch you and John walk out that kind of suffering, the physical suffering. It has been such a picture for me. It has been such an example for me because you do the work.
Now we don’t know what Paul’s immediate reactions were to bandits, to being hungry, to not having clothing, to being forced to fast, to, to being heckled and jeckled and tormented by people who were supposed to be the body of Christ. He’s building the church that he loves, that’s he’s living and dying for as he’s called to as an Apostle. We don’t know what his work looked like, on purpose. Right? It, it, if we knew, we wouldn’t do the work of figuring it out, of going to the Lord and, and we’d just, we’d just have a picture to walk out.
And, and when I say I look at you and John, you go through things differently because you’re two different people and you’re two different sexes. Men and women I don’t think fight the same way or have the same issues. But you do the work to get right with God, whether He lifts it or He keeps you in it.
That is the fundamental work to stay in your position of loving Him, of trusting Him, of listening. “Is there a problem? Is there a breach?” That’s the work I’m talking about. And you and John faithfully do that work even when it’s messy and there’s a meltdown because you’re human, you’re still doing the work.
And I don’t know what work was involved but I imagine it was non-stop, it was twenty-four/seven, and it was really something for Paul. Because to me the audacity of Paul is how unashamed and unapologetic he is of his own humanity. He is unapologetic for the fact that he is a human being. He owns his past. But his past doesn’t own him. He owns his weaknesses. He even boasts in them.
I’m very… I consider it an excellent day full of faith and grace when I come to the place where I can just accept my failure, accept that I’m falling apart, accept that I’m weak and stupid, and ignorant, and unable to figure out my own life. When I can accept it and just walk through life without it battering me, I consider that an amazing day of victory beyond the telling of it.
I can’t imagine what it would be if that would be the jewel that I hold to people and say, “Look here! Hear ye, hear ye!” You know, think about what it means to boast in something. Not only is it not hidden, not only do you just have peace with it, you’re shouting-it-from-the-rooftops-level of energy about it, you know?
Oh, Jen, I’m so excited because verse 10 says, “So for the sake of Christ I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).” I’m sorry I interrupted you. But he was pleased and took pleasure in infirmities. And I think it might be if when you have tasted the result, being joy and rest and freedom and absolutely dependence, that you could say, “Oh boy.” I’m not there yet but…
But you have been there. I have seen both you and John… John and his finger. I saw John in absolute bliss in just a, a I don’t have words for it, level of worship and ecstasy when he’d been maimed. That’s not normal.
Yeah, the, the… And it was one of my biggest fears. Like you know, illness and, and losing a limb that’s real high on the list there and I literally did go through that with, with Him. It was, it was His strength. He took over.
It was, it was beautiful. I’m glad you remembered that, Jen.
The Work Behind Embracing Weakness – Episode #660 – Shulamite Podcast
The Apostle Paul didn’t just accept his weakness and infirmity and failure. He boasted in it! What a mighty work Paul must have done to so embrace weakness. We can’t see the work he did, and so we trust the Spirit and follow Jesus as He leads us individually.