Delighting in Weakness {The Grove: Sufficient}

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12: 9

August 7, 2017, was a big day for me. My first waking thought was, “Thank You for this gift of weakness and having to depend on Your strength and wisdom – which is always more and better than what I come up with on my own.” And then my second thought, “I’m delighting in my weakness! It is as if this concept of learning to delight in weakness that had been rambling in my thinking finally sunk into my being and overflowed.

A few years ago I started mulling over Paul’s declaration of delighting in weakness in 2 Corinthians 12. I’m pretty sure he didn’t jump directly from “please remove this thorn” to delight. Delight is a strong word, meaning to “take pleasure in, to derive joy from”. We’re talking about delighting in weakness, friends. Taking pleasure in and deriving joy in weakness, in limitations, in inadequacies – basically, loving the fact that you don’t have the goods for what is needed.

I think Paul had a choice, just like us, to deny, ignore, resist, war against, despise weakness, or to move towards delight. I’m proposing this is how we all journey from awareness to delight.

Awareness

Moving at high speed, hardly noticing bumps and bruises from hurdles we run into – we eventually hit a wall we can’t overcome. It might be a physical limitation, emotional exhaustion, mental fatigue, spiritual flatness, relational barriers. We find ourselves kicking against our limits.

Acknowledgement

We have to admit to ourselves, and sometimes others, “I have limits.” Limits I can’t push through, reason away, or step over.

Ironically, God’s work of deepening and refining our call is often accompanied by a deepening sense of our inadequacies. Having run out of fumes, our emptiness makes room for God’s good work.

Acceptance

Here’s where we stop covering up our shortcomings, feeling sorry for ourselves, and apologizing for our inadequacies. We accept we are purposely designed with limitations so the glory of His presence might be revealed in us.

For Paul, acceptance happened in the moment he heard, “My grace is sufficient for you.” as he understood the connection between power and weakness.

Why weakness? Because God asks us to join Him in ventures much bigger than ourselves. In His kindness, He allows us to bump up against our limits so we know we cannot do this God-sized thing on our own. He meets our weakness with His power. He speaks to our limits with His unmatched, unlimited grace.

For me, acceptance happened as I realized everything, even this, is chosen for me out of the generous and kind heart of God. This is the place I was in when I wrote about struggling with limits two years ago, agreeing with God that the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places as changes in my capacity caused me to lean into Jesus more fully, quickly, and joyfully.

Honoring

If limitations are a gift knit into my being by my Creator, then I best honor my limits by relying on God’s unlimited understanding and power and strength. He never grows tired of pouring into me. He never grows weary of my need for wisdom.

I don’t have to live in a place of weary-drenched stumbling. God asks me to steward what He’s given me – to consistently, relentlessly lean into Him, to draw my renewal from His well, to honor my limits by leaning into His limitlessness.

Here I quit focusing on my weaknesses and begin to appreciate the gift that causes me to scoot in close to God.

Embrace

Embracing the wonder of being an ordinary vessel, carrying the treasure of God’s incomparable power within, springs out of gratitude for the gift.

Embracing the joyful exchange of my weakness for His strength also releases me from the weightiness of my responsibility to hang on to Christ. God abiding in me is the more significant part of the equation! Connected to Him, He holds me to Himself, grafts me in, and flows through me. Abiding is far more about identity than effort.

Weaknesses move me from self-sufficiency toward God-dependency. They drag me away from pride toward true humility, being willing to be known as I truly am with both God-given strengths and weaknesses.

Delight

What does delighting in weakness feel like?

Relief. Being able to drop pretense and live in the freedom of knowing I am enough because He lives in me and He’s most certainly more than enough.

It also stirs up courage to do things for which you don’t have what you need in your own arsenal. Think of Gideon, the least of the smallest of the weakest; David, the shepherd boy not even in the running; Moses, the stutterer; Joseph, the forgotten prisoner; Sarah, the woman whose biological clock had long ago stopped. Each exchanged their weakness for God’s sufficiency.

And the best, sweet intimacy born out of desperate longings for not just God’s provisions, but for His presence.

No doubt I have more to understand about the sufficiency of God in my weaknesses, but I sure am enjoying the freedom of not having to depend on my own resources and watching how my inadequacies highlight His abundance.

“…Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Teach me to delight in what opens my heart to more of You.
Teach me to delight in what breaks up fallow ground in order to receive from You.
Teach me to delight in what my mind rejects as disdainful but my soul welcomes as fruitful.

What are you learning about your limits?

Jesus limited Himself to identify with us (Philippians 2). How does that speak to your life?

What if the limits and weaknesses you keep bumping up against are God’s good design for you to know Him more fully? What might that look like? What would it take to fully lean into that?

~~~

This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesSufficient. You can add yours!

13 Comments

  1. Ruth Felt November 24, 2017

    This was a good read. I feel like I have been banging up against limits constantly in recent years. My natural response is, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do what everyone else is?” I feel like there is a flaw in my design – really I am saying, “God, why did you mess me up? God, you didn’t do a very good job here.”
    I think about my daughters – naturally the younger wants to be just like her big sister. She’s only 4 years old and already saying, “I think my hair is getting blonder, don’t you?” I look at her beautiful brown hair and it breaks my heart that she already wants to be different. I imagine God feels the same way looking at us – “I made you the way I did for a reason, and I think it’s beautiful.”
    But as I have lain at home sick, with sick kids, this Thanksgiving, it is so hard to accept, much less delight in my weaknesses.
    Thank you for this…it is something I think will take a lot of growing into.

    1. Patty Stallings November 24, 2017

      I’m sorry to hear your Thanksgiving has been marked by sickness, Ruth. 🙁 May you and your family breathe in health and healing.

      I, too, think God must look at us with such tender compassion, longing for us to see ourselves the way He sees us. As you said, the “imperfections” He’s woven in are beautiful. May He speak over you with His kindness and strength as you settle into that truth, Ruth.

  2. Kristi November 24, 2017

    Sufficient
    Serving in my own strength I fall
    Under self-condemnation and never
    Fully meet the standard of the “others”
    Finally facing my
    Inherent weaknesses as a divinely
    Created yet fallen human being
    Is the only way I can
    Ever know the limitless
    No holds bar, tenacious, power-giving
    Love of my Father

    My quick acrostic musing on your encouraging words, Patty.

    1. Patty Stallings November 24, 2017

      Kristi, this is such a beautiful expression of learning to delight in weakness! Thank you for sharing with all of us your creative poetic thinking!

    2. Grace November 24, 2017

      Yes Krisit, this is awesome. I may have to put this on my wall – love that it is an acrostic. This has been a hard Thanksgiving for me, maybe a down day to appreciate the many good ones. Sure missing my kids, who are together, except for the one who is wandering. God, please keep teaching me that even what looks heart-breaking from a cistance is being used by You in Your perfect way, to find and redeem, and sanctify everyone in my family. I know You are working! Thank you Patty, for your deep wisdom and authenticity. May the Father be very near to each of you.

      1. Patty Stallings November 25, 2017

        I’m feeling for you, Grace. It’s sure is hard to be away from your kids on holidays. I feel the same ache. I’m joining you right now in asking for His redemptive and gracious work in your family.

  3. Joyce November 24, 2017

    Thanks, Patty, for sharing. I have meditated often on what it means to abide and the whole concept of rejoicing in weakness and limitations is so contrary to the worldview around us that celebrates self-sufficiency and self-empowerment. Your phrase “Connected to Him, He holds me to Himself…” touched my heart as well as the word, “Relief.” It is God working through me… I can’t do this. Over three years now in re-entry and working a full-time job that God has given to me in a nursing home, I continually feel weak, stretched, ignorant and … old. Yet the whole situation is teaching me more of who God is and what a life of faith is– lessons being learned in different aspects and levels than all the decades I had overseas. Thanks again, Patty!

    1. Patty Stallings November 25, 2017

      I thinks it’s interesting how abiding and delighting in weakness are connected. Those are two themes intertwined in my thinking, too. It blesses me to know our Father continues to work in us in all seasons and all circumstances. Thanks for sharing, Joyce!

  4. Elizabeth November 25, 2017

    Patty, thank you for this and for sharing what you have learned of yourself and of God through experience. My struggles with anxiety and fear have intensified in the last month. I am able to feel and name my emotions, but then I get “stuck”. I’ve been trying to figure it all out and do all the things I know to do to lessen my anxiety and break the cycle of fear I’m in, but it seems like I’m getting nowhere. We are isolated here so I don’t have a lot of resources to help, but as I’ve been talking things through with my husband he finally said a few days ago that he thinks anxiety is one of those things I might always struggle with. I might need to accept that this is a weakness, but in that acceptance I can depend on God more fully. Then your article, which I’ve read and pondered a number of times now…Thank you.

    1. Patty Stallings November 25, 2017

      Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your experience and your perseverance in your struggles. May you experience the fullness of God’s peace as you lean into Him. I’m asking right now that our Father would surround you with His steadfast love in an unmistakable way!

  5. Amanda November 26, 2017

    This. Is. Beautiful.
    Perfect timing for me to be reading your blog, this blog, Patty. Thank you. Especially poignant for me is the Honoring portion, and my heart was overwhelmingly comforted by the words “He never grows weary of my need for wisdom.” Really just the fact that God never grows weary of me, or my neediness. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Patty Stallings November 29, 2017

      I’m so glad these words came to you at the right time, Amanda! I’m with you – so thankful He never grows weary of us or our needs. May you be filled with His goodness as you honor the beauty He created in you!

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