For most of my 71 years, I’ve bucked against certain frailties and limitations. I’ve viewed my weaknesses as something that must be overcome, feeling frustrated when, decade after decade of my pilgrimage, I still exhibited those deficiencies or imperfections.
Depressed Over Deficiencies
I’ve lamented a hypersensitivity that leaves me easily hurt by people or life events. I’m so needy and insecure in my relationships, I wonder why God created me with such thin skin.
I’ve bemoaned my genetic predisposition to depression, because it’s downright draining to fight negative emotions and thoughts day in and day out.
I get discouraged because I’m still extremely vulnerable to temptation. I’m aware that temptation itself isn’t sin, yet I berate myself because I think I yield far too often for a man who has been a believer for six decades. I figure that I’m in pre-kindergarten, spiritually speaking. I know I must not tolerate sin, yet in the process of my ups and downs in following Christ, I’ve never exercised much grace or patience in relation to myself.
More recently, I’ve brooded over my physical decline, which includes escalating pain and energy depletion. Yea, I know that signs of aging are inevitable for each of us. I just don’t like living in an extreme state of neediness.
In a nutshell, I don’t like feeling out of control or weak. I’ve often said to myself, “What’s the matter with you!?”
Thankfully, I’m becoming more alert to the numerous biblical references that describe us as desperate, needy creatures. God goes to great pains within His Word to say that we are prone to anxiety and to fears. The Bible assumes that we can’t always manage our lives well. His Word acknowledges the inevitability of weariness, temptations, burdens, bodily decline, and of various trials that tax our reserves.
I’ve written some of those Bible verses below. Texts such as these are ever-so-slowly allowing me to accept my finiteness and view my weaknesses as an opportunity to experience God’s grace. I’m beginning to chafe less against my deficiencies, to accept the fact that I’m needy and always will be. As you peruse these verses, look for responses that God desires from us regarding our weaknesses, and what He promises to do for us in relation to our needs.
Weakness Is the Way
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
“Call on Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:15).
“Cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
“On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:7-8).
“My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes” (Proverbs 3:5-7a).
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me” (Micah 7:8).
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh….concerning this, I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
In reference to our resurrected body, Paul wrote, “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:42-43).
A Closer Look
If you want to spend a few more minutes on those verses, examine them in light of these questions:
- Which verse or set of verses resonates most with you today? Why? Memorize this text so the Spirit can bring His Word to your mind when you need it.
- From this compilation of texts, what words and phrases reveal something encouraging about the nature of God?
- What words and phrases offer a promise of what God will do for and in us?
- From these verses, identify what we are instructed to do about our neediness. (Look for words/phrases calling for action on our part.)
- Based on the cumulative input from these texts, complete this sentence: “It is okay to be weak and needy because___________________________.”
These verses remind me of what James I. Packer wrote in his classic book, Knowing God. He offered a perspective that assuages my depression over my deficiencies.
“Grace is God drawing us sinners closer and closer to Himself. And how does God in grace prosecute this purpose? Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to Him more closely. This is the ultimate reason why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort or another. It is to ensure that we shall learn to hold Him fast. He takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in Himself.”
If I were totally adequate for running my life, I wouldn’t need God. To use the analogy of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, which he thought limited his life and ministry, I must stop trying to yank out my thorns.
My reflections on personal areas of weakness and the Bible verses I cited inspired this simple poem. One or more of the verses shaped the content of each stanza.
My Source of Strength
When I’m in the dark I look at the Light
who can turn my night into day,
who creates in me new eyes that can see
the good He has sent my way.
When I feel down, then I look up
to the One who is my hope.
When I’m afraid I hold the hand
of the One who helps me cope.
When I feel faint I rest on the Rock;
He’s secure, steady, and strong.
When I feel heat I fall at the feet
of One who can right what’s wrong.
When I am all spent and I need to vent,
He’s the One whose ear I seek.
When I’m flat on my face, He gives His grace;
He is stronger than I am weak.
It’s okay to be weak and needy because the Lord is strong and sufficient. My frailties and limitations create a desperate dependence on God, and that’s a good thing!
If God’s Spirit whispered to you, “Stop trying to yank out that thorn!” to what would He be referring?