I was driving pretty late in the day (9 o’clock is late to me, yes) and was listening to the radio like I always do to keep my brain alert. I switched frequencies just in time to catch the tail end of a song and as the music was fading a little child was recited Isaiah 40:28-31, one of my very favorite Bible passages. I did a double-take, because that was the second time recently that I had caught just the verse part of the song, so I listened carefully.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and grow weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
If you read the whole chapter, it’s all about the utter magnitude of God. Then it sort of switches gears. Instead of focusing on the mounting up like eagles part, this time around I noticed something different: there’s a lesson here about weakness.
First we have the reminder that God’s strength is unending, and His wisdom without limit. He is the one with the ultimate power and strength and wisdom. And who does He grant that strength to? The one who is faint; the one who has reached the end of his own capabilities. Why? A friend once told me that sometimes we have to be empty of ourselves in order for God to fill us, which reminds me of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
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 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.
Weakness is universal, and contrary to our opinion, it’s perfectly natural and acceptable – even desirable – to be weak. Isaiah 40:30 says that even youths grow weary and young men fall exhausted. Translation: no one, even those in the prime of life with all the energy and enthusiasm of youth, has the strength to make it. We’re all unavoidably weak. It’s not a question of if we will get to the end of ourselves, but a question of when.
So here’s the thing – weakness is inherently neither a blessing nor a curse. We get to choose what we do with it – and what we do with it determines whether it becomes blessing or curse. Let me give an example. Throughout my struggles with insecurity, inadequacy, ineptitude, and a generally clumsy view of myself, I knew I was weak. My understanding of my inability was all too clear, but it did not lead me to trust God for His strength instead. It lead me to depression and a nagging despair of ever being able to do anything right. On the other hand, Paul gladly welcomed his weaknesses, because they kept him relying on God’s power day in and day out. Paul is an example of one who “waited on the Lord” and “mounted up with wings like eagles” as a result. He allowed his weakness to cause him to trust God to come through.
It’s like a little girl trying to tie her shoe. You know she doesn’t know how to do it, but you can’t help her unless she chooses to let you help her. As long as she stubbornly pushes your hand away, you have to just watch her make a hopeless knot of the laces. When she realizes she can’t do it, she can pout and throw the shoe away in anger or disgust, or she can turn to you and ask for help.
The thought I want to leave you with is this: There’s no shame in being weak – but the question is, are you throwing the shoe away and having a pity party, or are you choosing to make it a blessing by running back to God for His strength?