9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 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 12:9-10
I know people quote these verses all the time. I have pointed people and myself to them many a time as well. To embrace and live out their truth though is…painful.
I am convinced that one of the things God wants us to learn from this trip to Malawi is just how weak we are. It feels as though God is determined to expose with the full blazing light of His holiness, our inadequacies. I say “our” but I am most painfully aware of my own inadequacies, and that is what I will share a bit about.
Here are the categories of inadequacies that God has been exposing:
In pride and self-righteousness, I didn’t think I was as bad as I am. A new environment with new stresses and responsibilities and new people to work with and all sorts of gross selfishness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, self-reliance, lack of love, and unbelief come out. This junk was already there, but the new circumstances merely exposed what was already there.
Only Christ’s grace through the gospel, trusting that he was crushed under the infinite weight of God’s just wrath for my sin and that His righteousness is my righteousness and that He is the Treasure that is worth slaying the sin which clings so closely, only Christ’s power can overcome this weakness.
Need for Rest
It would be very, very easy to work 80 hours a week here on all that needs to be done and still have more left to do. It is also very, very easy for me to find my meaning and identity in the tasks themselves rather than being driven out of love for Christ. But that is just idolatry/self-reliance coated with a veneer of ministry. I don’t have enough time or energy. That is a reminder of my weakness and finitude and the unneedy, infinitely energetic God. Rest is a time to humble myself and remember that God is God and I am not. The Sabbath, while not a mandate for Christians as it was for those under the Old Covenant, is still a pattern that is a gift to man.
Lack of Knowledge/Skill
I usually like to think that I’m adaptable and can tackle any problem that comes my way….But I’ve never had to be a Hebrew teacher, administrative assistant, IT technician, facilities personnel, etc. before. There’s just a lot of stuff that comes about in a given day that I’ve never done before and don’t know how to do. I’ll I can do is pray for God’s help and try my best, trusting the Lord for the results.
Communicating Complex Material…with a Language Barrier
Hebrew is hard but glorious. What’s the best way to teach it to those who have a different mother tongue and worldview from you? I don’t know. Each lesson is an experiment to try something that will hopefully help them grasp the concepts better. The big question on my mind is “Will they use Hebrew for the future? Will they use it for their sermons? Will they cut straight the Word of God? How can I help them do that?” I need God’s grace and power to give insight.
Working With Others
I’m an American, so I already have a disposition towards being independent and self-reliant. I was homeschooled, so I learned to work independently…a strength and a weakness. I’m more naturally introverted. I could spend all day at home translating Hebrew, not talking to anyone, and I would be happy. But I need others. I need the body of Christ and its members (1 Corinthians 12) to display Christ and seek to build up His global body. I need other people’s strengths and I need them to complement my weaknesses. I need to humble myself under my leaders that God has placed over me.
Because Christ’s power was made known through Paul’s weakness, he said he was well content with weakness and other hard things. WELL CONTENT. To be honest…I’m not there yet. I don’t like being weak. I like to feel strong and capable. But then Chris and not Christ is seen, and that is truly a disaster. It is far better to rejoice in seeing Christ work His power through our weakness.
At the end of Module 1 a couple weeks ago, I was teaching Introduction to Exegesis to our Diploma students. The module was exhausting and very discouraging at times. There was so much to do and it felt like so many things slipped through the cracks or didn’t go smoothly. But then a student came up to me at the end of the last session and told me that based on what he had learned that module, he wanted to go and change a sermon he was going to preach to an expository sermon. God keeps giving sweet glimpses like these to show that He is at work through our weakness for His glory and the spread of His Word through faithful preaching throughout the country of Malawi.