His Glory Displayed in my Weakness
One of my biggest struggles is pride. Not so much the pride of thinking that I’m above everyone else (although I do have to guard my heart from that), but the pride of putting myself down because I think I am not good enough. I tend to focus so much on my weaknesses, and I constantly compare myself with how others are doing. Sometimes I find myself longing to be like someone else that does not have the weaknesses I have. I don’t like for people to point out my weaknesses because I let it affect how much I value myself. However, the Lord used my husband to point this out (graciously) and through prayer, devotional time, and sermons at my church, I have been walking towards freedom from my pride… I have long ways to go, but this is a start.
Today’s reflection comes from 3 people in the Bible who have helped me look at my weaknesses in a healthy way: Moses, Jeremiah, and Paul. Although they were alive in different times and they accomplished different tasks, they had something in common: in the midst of their weakness, God used them and brought Glory to His name.
From their lives we can learn three truths… the first one is:
Our identity is not defined by what we can or can’t do, but by who we are in God.
Exodus 3:7-12 says: The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
The people of God had been enslaved by the Egyptians for a while and they were being oppressed more and more each day by Pharaoh. In their distress, they cry out to God, and He hears their cry. To deliver them, God chose Moses… a Hebrew raised by Egyptian royalty. At this point in Moses’s life, he had run away from Pharaoh because, in his attempt to help a Hebrew, he killed an Egyptian. Moses was then rejected by his own people and persecuted by his adoptive family. Now, at 80 years old, Moses had gone from being royalty to attending sheep at Midian. This is the person God calls to free His people from slavery.
In chapter 3, we see that Moses’s response to God’s calling was to doubt his identity and capability to do what God wanted him to do. Moses had already tried before to help the Hebrew people, but his attempt failed. So why would it be different for him now? Because the Lord was with him. God, with his answered, redefined Moses’s identity. He was no longer the one who murdered an Egyptian, the rejected Hebrew, or the one who just was good enough to attend sheep. Now, Moses was the one who had the Lord by his side.
I think we can relate to Moses because sometimes we allow the things we have done in the past to define who we are and what we can do. And when the Lord calls us to do something that highlights that bad past or one of our weaknesses, we say no to God’s will. We want to be in control so bad, that we only do what we are good at or what we know is going to be a success or bring praise to our name. We tell God that we know what we can do in our own strength, and we doubt the Lord has the power to overcome those weaknesses… we don’t let God redefine our identity.
I want you to imagine for a second, what would have happened if Moses had said no. I have no doubt that God’s will would had been fulfilled. But look at it from Moses’s perspective. Imagine how much he would have missed if he had let his past and capacities define his identity. He probably would have stayed attending sheep the last years of his life. He would have missed all the miracles the Lord did through him. He would have missed experiencing the power of God in his life. He would have missed God.
We can also see an example of this in the life of Jeremiah. Through the prophet Jeremiah we learn the second truth:
Our weaknesses are not excuses to disregard obedience.
Jeremiah 1:4-8 says: The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Similarly to Moses, Jeremiah is called by God to a task. In this case, the task was to be a prophet and proclaim God’s Word to Judah for them to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. In this case, Jeremiah did not have much of a troubled past like Moses. Although he knew the ways of the Lord, his answer to God’s calling was still one of doubt. He said to the Lord that he was too young and slow to speak. Jeremiah was focusing on his own weaknesses, rather than focusing on who was calling Him… his Creator. Nevertheless, the Lord reaffirmed him by telling him that He was going to be by his side protecting him. However, the Lord first asked for Jeremiah’s obedience.
Sometimes we find ourselves in Jeremiah’s shoes saying no to God because we don’t feel we are equipped enough. We decide to not obey the Lord because we don’t think we are right for the part. However, we need to understand who is calling us… our Creator… the one who knows every single part of our mind, body, and spirit. And not only He knows us, but He also has the power to protect us and use us for his Glory. He only asks that we respond in obedience to his call and in faith knowing that He is on our side.
Finally, Paul teaches us the third truth:
Our weaknesses keep our hearts from pride and are a means for God to show his glory.
2 Corinthians: 6-10 says: Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul does not specify what was his thorn in the flesh, but he does say the reason why he got it: to keep his heart from pride. Paul asked the Lord repeatedly to take it away, but the Lord refused. Instead, God decided to use the thorn to show his power through Paul’s life. It was the Lord who was going to get all the glory for what Paul did for the kingdom of God. Knowing this, Paul looked at his weakness differently… He delighted in his thorn in the flesh because he knew the Lord was going to display his power in Paul’s life.
This concept of delighting in our weaknesses goes against what the world teaches us. The world teaches us that we need to be strong, with no flaws, and striving in everything we do because when we do that, we can boast in ourselves and say, “I did that!” Then all your accomplishments are possible because you believed in yourself, and there is no one else who deserves glory and praise but you. How easily that is the case… From the beginning of times humans struggled with this… with the desire to be praised. Satan wanted to be like God… Adam and Eve wanted to be like God… and when we want to get rid of our weaknesses or we want to hide them, it’s because we want to be perfect… like God.
I don’t know what your weakness is… but I’m sure we all have that area in our lives that we wish it was different. I know mine… and in my prayer time I decided to be silent before the Lord and the Holy Spirit brought to mind the passage above. I understood that the Lord may not answer my prayer of ridding me of my weakness just because He knows how quickly my heart would turn to pride. He knows how quickly I would search for approval from men and long for praise. So I decided to delight in my weakness and thank the Lord for guarding my heart. I understood that even with my thorn in the flesh, God will show his power through my life to bring glory to HIS name.
When we believe the Lord is with us and we delight on our weaknesses, what we are or aren’t capable of doing doesn’t matter because the Lord is the one who enables us to carry out his plan for us. When we let go of our pride, we are able to go confident into unknown tasks that may highlight our weaknesses because we know the Lord is on our side. When we let go of our pride, we understand that our end goal in life is to glorify God, and our weaknesses are a perfect opportunity for God to show his power.
Can you recall any time you have said no to something the Lord has asked you do to because of your weaknesses? Can you think of a time you wanted the praise of men? I know, I can… and I pray the Lord forgives me for my pride and does not take away the opportunity for me to experience his power in my life.
I want to leave you with a song called "O Great God" by Sovereign Grace Music. This song invites us to recognize who God is and who we were apart from him. These two recognitions result in praising the Lord and asking him to guard our hearts and glorify his name through our lives.
O Great God
O great God of highest heaven Occupy my lowly heart Own it all and reign supreme Conquer every rebel power Let no vice or sin remain That resists Your holy war You have loved and purchased me Make me Yours forevermore
I was blinded by my sin Had no ears to hear Your voice Did not know Your love within Had no taste for heaven's joys Then Your Spirit gave me life Opened up Your Word to me Through the gospel of Your Son Gave me endless hope and peace
Help me now to live a life That's dependent on Your grace Keep my heart and guard my soul From the evils that I face You are worthy to be praised With my every thought and deed O great God of highest heaven Glorify Your Name through me
You are worthy to be praised With my every thought and deed O great God of highest heaven Glorify Your Name through me