What to do with weakness?
We live in a world where it is counter-intuitive to show weakness. We learn from a young age to conceal weakness; to put on a brave face and show our peers that we are strong, successful, and happy. This is especially evident in our social media activity: our Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of photos of exotic holidays, happy marriages, and vibrant social lives, but we are reluctant to share the details of our daily struggles — broken relationships, career disappointments, suicidal thoughts, addictions, and so on. This is understandable — if we are open about our weaknesses we run the risk of allowing others to exploit those weaknesses and judge us by them. But the problem with covering up weakness is that few of us know how to deal with it properly in our personal lives.
Pastors Ryan and Rachel Waters address this issue in a four-part sermon series entitled "What to do with Weakness". In the first part Ryan discusses the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14:22-34:
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret.
We are all, in a sense, like Peter. We want to follow Jesus; to be like him. We step out into the storm with him, but then we realise the terrifying reality of our circumstances and our weakness, and we begin to sink. We lack faith.
Faith is often seen as a strength — a skill that one masters, or a level of enlightenment that one achieves through discipline and intellectual effort. But this is a misconception. Faith is actually an attitude of dependence. To have faith is to admit that you are weak and that you need God.
When we allow difficult circumstances to overwhelm us, it is because we have forgotten our dependence on Christ, and have begun depending on ourselves. It is only when we remember our dependence on Christ that we are able to overcome our weakness.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says to Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, we do not need to fear our weakness. God accepts us in spite of it. In fact, it is precisely in our weakness that God works in and through us!
To learn more about what the Bible says about how to deal with weakness check out the series. All four parts are available on our SoundCloud and YouTube pages. Alternatively, you can simply also listen below.