Have you noticed we live in a world that scorns weakness? Evolution tells us life is about the survival of the fittest. The weak disappear while the strong survive. Our culture tells us that happiness, success, and security are for those who have the strength to raise themselves up out of any hardship. If we have more money, more fame, more stuff, or more power we can conquer anything. We believe weakness means being abused, used, lonely, and miserable. It means you are out of control. To be useless and powerless means bondage, so liberating weakness becomes the driving force of our actions and reactions.
Kelly Clarkson’s song, “What doesn’t kill you (stronger)” powerfully conveys our fear of weakness and our wish for strength and control.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
These words show the belief we all have that weakness leads to heartache and pain. When I’m weak I’m at the mercy of others. When I’m strong no one can harm me. I stand tall. I’m never lonely. I’m liberating weakness, my weakness.
As I write this I’m very mindful that I have lived as if I need to liberate the weakness in my life. As a follower of Jesus I’ve acknowledged that I am helpless to fix my brokenness. I need the gift of His grace to make me whole. Yet on a daily basis I live as if loving and serving Him means I have to personify steady strength. I run from my weakness. When I can’t run anymore I hide. When I can’t hide anymore I avoid it. And when I can no longer avoid how weak I am I try to cover it up. All the while the strength I long for beckons, yet vanishes like a mirage in the desert. Rather than bringing freedom, pursuing strength has left me in bondage.
It shouldn’t surprise me that the Bible has a lot to say about strength and weakness. Its message blows my preconceived ideas of strength right out of the water. Listen to the words of Paul.
But he (God) 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Rather than attempting to liberate my weaknesses I’ve found liberation IN them. Freedom comes not from pursuing strength but from pursuing the One who is strong. The more I acknowledge my utter helplessness and look to Christ, the more His power rests upon me. This is the power of liberating weakness.
The world tells me to grow stronger,
Be more independent every day.
But I find that I grow weaker.
Or more like it, I become more aware
Of the weakness that’s always been there.
Yet the weaker I become
The more of Your strength I find.
When I’m lost in the dark,
Your beauty shines.
The less I can handle, the more I see
Your grace really is sufficient for me.
 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)