The sisters of our church threw a brother’s appreciation night this past weekend. The theme was “Heros” and the encouragement was for us to be strong and courageous in the Lord (Joshua 1:6). A big thanks for all the work and love that was put into that night, it was amazing! It made me think a bit about strength, and what it means to be strong in the Lord. It’s a very different picture than what this world paints as being strong.
It’s a bit ironic that those of us who spend our lives helping others find it so hard to seek out help ourselves. We make the worst patients, most of us refusing to go to the doctors until we absolutely have to. We probably won’t admit it, but I suspect most of us see neediness as a weakness. It is weak to have to ask for help, because that is acknowledging that we can’t do life by ourselves.
Society tells us that we need to be strong in ourselves, that weakness is bad. If we aren’t careful, we might think the Bible teaches that too. We might point to the example of Paul. 2 Corinthians 11 gives us just a taste of what Paul endured and triumphed over: shipwrecks, beatings, prison, even stoning! Yet his words in 2 Corinthians 12:10 is shocking to our western sensibilitiies: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” God gave Paul an affliction to remind him that it’s only in his weakness that he experiences God’s strength.
It shouldn’t surprise us that those who have learned to depend on themselves find it difficult to feel close to God. It’s the old problem of our pride, wanting to be our own God rather than to surrender to our creator. It isn’t until we come to the end of ourselves, understand our inability to save ourselves, that we can truly experience the power of God in our lives. The medical journey is hard, and we might think we are being humble by not complaining and plowing through. That’s actually our pride, and Satan is pleased by that.
It is a huge tragedy that depression and substance abuse in the health profession is more common than we would like to admit, and much of this is related to our inability to put to death our pride and call out for help. It is not weak to need others. It certainly is not weak to need God. We were created to live in relationship with both. When we try to fight against that, we can get into deep trouble. Is there a burden in your life that you need help carrying? Let’s lay aside our pride so that we can really embrace and experience life as it was intended.
9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 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 Corinthians 12:9-10