“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!