Weakness Works in Our Favor {Book Club}

Weakness Works in Our Favor

“His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.” –Judges 14:4

Samson has just come onto the scene in the history of God’s people. The first thing he does is make a poor choice: he wants to marry a Philistine! Back in chapter 13, before Samson was born, his mother and father were told that he was going to save Israel from the Philistines. But now he insists on marrying one?!

We all know about Samson and his superhuman strength. His is one of the favorite hero tales that fill children’s Sunday School literature. A grown up reading of his life, as much as is chronicled in the book of Judges, reveals outrageous foolishness. He doesn’t behave so much like a superhero as he does like the average 14 year old boy.

God gave Samson superhuman strength to kill many Philistines, but it was a major character flaw, his greatest weakness, which put Samson in the position to fight the Philistines. As children, we were in awe of Samson for being so strong. As an adult, I’m in awe of how God created opportunities to deliver Israel through a man’s poor choices.

Earlier in Judges, we have Gideon – one of my personal favorites. The least son from the weakest clan of Manasseh set out with 32,000 troops to fight against an army of 135,000. And God said, “32,000 is too many.” Systematically, soldiers were sent home until less than 1% remained. Finally, with only 300 men, Gideon’s army was weak enough to be used in the victory God planned.

The job God leads us to doesn’t depend on our strength. Where strength is needed, God provides it. But he is even more likely to put our weakness to use.

1 Corinthians 1:25b says, “the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Or, in reverse we could say our strength is weak. Two verses later: “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” And in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Our strengths may make certain things easier for us to do, but it is in our weaknesses that the Holy Spirit prefers to work.

In Chapter 9 of Glorious Weakness, Alia Joy says, “Weakness is a holy invitation to allow grace to do its work.”

She goes on to discuss how God disrupts our lives, drawing us “to places of unrelenting weakness.” I don’t want to go to those places! This brought to my mind a previous book club book (and one of my favorites), Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson. In Chapter 5, she talked about how much we hate our human limitations. We hate our bodies for being imperfect and not godlike. Jesus, in his incarnation, embraced human limits as good.

We don’t want to be weak. We don’t want to be imperfect. We don’t want to be humbled. “No one signs up for this, no one wants a life of enduring,” writes Alia Joy. I want a job that aligns with my strengths so that I know I can do it well.

“Weakness … is simply the inevitable state of our humanity. But the by-product of having God redeem our weakness instead of removing it is that we are made strong in Christ.” How often have I prayed for God to take away my weaknesses? To give me the right kind of strengths?

That’s not his plan! His plan is to redeem my weakness, to use me as I am, as he made me. The difficult part is facing my weakness daily because God doesn’t take it away. “We want God’s perfect strength, but we don’t want to live with our constant, gaping need.”

Do you have any experiences to share about weakness working in your favor because God’s strength was there for you? What is your take-away from chapter 9? Join me in the comments!

Next week, we’ll finish up Glorious Weakness with chapters 10 and 11.


We know December can be busy no matter where you live! Instead of a book, we’ll be reading festive short stories and talking all about our favorite reads of 2019! Make sure you join us. The first short story will be linked in next week’s post!

Photo by Sajan Rajbahak on Unsplash

7 Comments

  1. Phyllis November 19, 2019

    Stories “about weakness working in your favor”? Not right now, but in faith I hope that I will. I am in the midst of a season of pretty intense weakness right now, as I fight cancer.

    Some of the quotes I marked:
    (Forgive me if they’re from the wrong chapter. I read ahead some, and then my ebook returned to the library, so I only have screenshots left.)

    “A wonder-filled life is grateful attentiveness to the awe in our ordinary.”

    “We are loved by the people and places and things we love. [Yes!!!] We are loved by the way we take notice when our souls feel alive, and the way we feel reminded to live with wonder when our souls don’t. To make contact with the world, to bear witness to the glory of our everyday ordinary.”

    “Pain breathed into me God’s presence both as Savior and as one who is incarnate, taking on the anguish of the world to bring healing and redemption. A God who breaks into the brokenness is the only One who could ever understand how desperately I need him.”

    1. T November 20, 2019

      Phyllis, I’m praying for you right now! For physical healing, financial provision, emotional support, fun with a friend, good relationships with family…all the good things for you!

    2. Sarah Hilkemann November 20, 2019

      Thank you for sharing, Phyllis! I don’t know how God will keep writing your story, or how He will use you mightily in this great time of weakness. All I know is that He is faithful and I’m trusting He will keep showing up on your hardest days, keep walking beside you in the storm.

    3. Rachel Kahindi November 21, 2019

      I especially love that one about being in awe of the ordinary. This is a random tangent, but I have heard many people with kids the ages of my kids talking about “making childhood magical,” usually by encouraging belief in mythology. But when we think back to our own childhoods, it wasn’t belief in magic that made it “magical,” but rather discovering the fascinating, ordinary world around us.

      Thank you for sharing. Cancer is such a hard part of life in this broken world.

  2. Sarah Hilkemann November 20, 2019

    I wish I wasn’t weak and imperfect! 🙂 During a particularly difficult time in Cambodia, I remember feeling like my cross-cultural worker pedestal was crumbling and crushing me in the rubble. It sounds dramatic, and it was incredibly painful, but that humbling experience was actually really good for me. I hadn’t realized the depth to which my feelings of superiority and heroism were affecting me. I think of times when God most used me, and it was when I felt so very weak and inadequate! But I knew that there was no way I could do it in my own strength and it pushed me over and over again to Him to be my strength. In some ways now living in the States I feel like I can do it on my own, and my weaknesses might not be as apparent. But I do remember those lessons and am not as afraid of those weaknesses as I used to be. 🙂

    1. Rachel Kahindi November 21, 2019

      Yes! I totally relate. I often catch myself planning/prepping/wanting to set myself up to be able to make it on my own. And it is easier to get to that point in my home culture because things just don’t take so much effort there!

  3. Beth November 23, 2019

    I highlighted a lot in this chapter. One thing she said that really resonated with me was “I couldn’t surrender to my weakness for fear that this somehow disqualified me from being used and loved by God.” I’ve noticed this feeling a lot since moving overseas. I find myself sometimes giving into this myth that people who serve do so out of excess of either their time or knowledge or some spiritual maturity. That before we serve and give or do ministry we must have “arrived” or figured it out. There’s this lie that God can’t use me yet because I don’t know enough, speak the language well enough, or have enough experience to do ministry right and really make a difference. I never realized just how exhausting it would be to wage war against that lie let alone surrender in obedience to the fact that God calls and its him not us that really does the work. I was so encouraged when she wrote, “I am the complete version of me, because no willpower or positive thinking or bootstrap mentality will ever complete what grace has already done.” So true!

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