Admit weakness? “No,” we’re told. “You need to attract good thoughts which empower you. So think BIG. Think SUCCESSFUL. Think STRONG!”

There is growing pressure for Christians to view themselves as strong warriors. The ones Satan is afraid of when we get out of bed in the morning.

The truth of the matter is Satan and his demons aren’t afraid of us. (Acts 19:15)

Yes, Scripture is filled with positional truths the Christ follower can and should joyously cling to and live out. But with increasing frequency, they are taken out of context. For example:

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (pluralizing Philippians 4:13)

The cultural emphasis is increasingly on us. Yet any strength the believer in Jesus has isn’t something he or she produces. It is Christ who is the giver of strength.

He is strong. But in our humanity, we are weak.

* * *

God doesn’t forget we were formed out of dust, and neither should we (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 103:14). In I Corinthians 1:27  we’re told God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.

God, then, is not surprised or even displeased when you and I occasionally hit the weakness wall. Consider how His response towards two spiritual giants of the faith can help us when the pull of human weakness is upon us.

* * *

A real power house from the Old Testament was the prophet Elijah. His name meant “Yahweh is God” or “My God is the LORD” and we see him courageously warning Israel to turn from sin to the only true God. Yet Elijah, physically and emotionally worn out after the events of I Kings chapter 18, is next found fearful, weak, and bereft of hope:

“And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough, now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.’” (I Kings 19:3-4)

Elijah was a God-empowered warrior type who hit the weakness wall.

God’s response to Elijah is significant for you and I. The passage continues:

“He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, ‘Arise, eat.’ Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water.” (I Kings 19:5-6a). The passage goes on to show Elijah taking on nourishment, laying down again and sleeping before the angel of the LORD came a second time, touching Elijah, and instructing him to get up and eat “… because the journey is too great for you.”

God is supernatural and practical. Elijah needed some naps intermingled with food and encouragement.

The prophet was not met with condemnation, but provision.  The bread and water met the prophet’s temporary needs and served as a marker of the Promised One who would meet his eternal needs—the Savior and Provider. Jesus said of Himself:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will not hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35).

“If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me as the Scripture said ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37)

Did you notice in the I King’s passage how God gave Elijah warm bread? When God gave us Jesus, the Bread of Life, He was humanly warm! And the water given to the prophet was in a jar; a common vessel… not unlike the Living Water who humbled Himself to take on the form of man.

There are patterns in Scripture, but no coincidences.

* * *

Another seemingly unstoppable man of God is found in the New Testament. The apostle Paul’s unwavering obedience to Jesus’ call upon his life and exhortations that we keep the faith are astounding. Yet Paul “hit the wall” too. He had failures and weaknesses of which he wrote. Whether something physical, emotional, or related to a temptation, Paul was afflicted with what he described as a thorn in his flesh and he urgently sought God for relief.

Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9a, “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you…’”

God’s response to Paul’s need seems very different from the kindness He extended to Elijah.

Yet look at this!

What ‘grace’ had God extended to Paul which surpassed the relief he sought? What ‘grace’ were the Old Testament believers such as Elijah looking forward to, in faith?

* * *

* * *

Jesus, the Bread of Life and Living Water.

* * *

God continued in His response to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Paul, like Elijah, received a “No” answer to his specific prayer. Yet he fully caught what God was communicating: Those who put their faith and trust in Jesus have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Ephesians Chapter 1 contains wave upon wave of what God’s matchless grace has accomplished!

God’s unmerited favor in his life radicalized Paul’s view of hitting the weakness wall: “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10).

* * *

Some encouraging takeaways:

  1. Weakness is not something to be ashamed of; it is a human condition (Isaiah 41:10; Romans 8:26).
  2. Like Elijah and Paul, we are free to bring everything to God in prayer (I Peter 5:6-7).
  3. God’s “No” answers to His children’s prayers are always superior to what they ask Him for (remembering today’s passages and Isaiah 55:8-9).
  4. Our struggles with human weakness place us in the greatest of company. Jesus Himself, as God in flesh, also hit the physical weakness wall (John 4:6; Hebrews 4:15-16).
  5. God will use the believer’s weaknesses to display the perfection of His power, even conforming him or her into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

Most importantly, we can glory in the truths of God not only caring about our temporary, physical needs (which He doessee Consider the Lilies), but having met our greatest need with His matchless grace:

Forgiveness. Redemption. Eternal life through Jesus, His Son.

(John 3:16; I Peter 5:10)

The Bread of Life and Living Water

* * *

I encourage you to consider reading Ephesians 1:1-23 today, followed by Romans 8:1-39. Anyone who places his or her faith in Jesus Christ can echo the same, joyous confidence the apostle Paul declared:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

* * *

The degree to which we are weak dissipates in the wild, incomprehensible grace and power of God.

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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