We Are Weak, But We Are His
That morning I broke apart.
It was Easter morning. Easter: the pinnacle of our faith—and yet I yelled at my kids.
I was trying to worship and “tune my heart to see His grace.” My children were set up with coloring books and quiet toys in hopes that I could have a few moments of quiet and peace.
One of them took the crayon away from the other.
The other yelled unkindly.
My patience was frayed.
I tried to respond quickly so that we could move on and I could focus on the sermon.
Then one kid jumped on the couch. The other colored on the ottoman. Soon they were both climbing on me. I snapped. “Will you please leave me alone?! Will you please stop?!” I instantly felt the remorse of my unkind and harsh words.
How is it even possible to sin so quickly while trying to rest in the Word? We had not even been awake all that long. Why was I so impatient? Why did unkind words roll out of my mouth with such ease? I went into the other room and sank into a chair. My kids ran to me, wrapped their forgiving arms around me, and asked “Mommy, why you sad?”
A loaded question if there ever were one. I was sad because I was not with my church family on Easter Sunday. I was sad because the coronavirus had changed my world, changed my plans, and changed my normal. I was sad because I did not know what to do. I did not even know what I needed.
Nothing about this time of quarantine feels right.
I entered the COVID quarantine hopeful.
“This will be okay.”
“We’ll have so much time together!”
I was energetic and enthusiastic. I made a color-coded plan on a whiteboard of how our home would function in this changing season. But as the last 10 weeks have trudged along, it feels less like forward motion and more like an endless version of Groundhog’s Day (just with less Bill Murray. Some Bill Murray, just less.) Like an open-ended timeout, I feel stuck. Stuck in my house. Stuck in an endless news cycle. Stalled in any progress I was making on different projects or goals. Just spinning my tires.
Every day I wake up and realize just how needy I am. Any semblance of strength is laughable at this moment. Why can I not get it together? Why does my house not look like a Southern Living cover? What can’t I cook meals that are both perfectly healthy and perfectly delicious? Why am I on my phone so much? Why have I not read more books? Why do I simultaneously feel annoyed by my children and desire to be with them all the time? Why am I only thinking of myself? Why is this all so hard? Like Jacob, we all walk with a limp. We know from scripture that no one comes to God from a position of strength but some days it feels more like we’re barely crawling towards Him.
We are needy
Most of us do not like to talk about our weaknesses. Our neediness feels like a manufacturing defect that we work our entire life to hide and overcome; afraid that if anyone sees, we’ll be relegated to the “scratch and dent” clearance bin. We fail to see that we were created inherently needy. Of course the fall has exasperated our inabilities, but we were never created for self-sufficient perfection. Even in the sinless garden, humans were created with an inherent need—a need for God Himself. Nothing that Adam and Eve needed was independently procured. God provided the shelter of the garden, the nourishment of the land and vegetation. He even provided for our need of community. “It is not good for man to be alone.” In her book None Like Him, Jen Wilkin explains,
“In pre-fall Eden, Adam and Eve were created to need. Even before the fateful plucking of the forbidden fruit, they depended on God for the breath in their lungs, for the food in their bellies, for water, land, and light. They had needs both physical and spiritual before sin ever slithered into the picture. God created them needy, that in their need they might turn to the Source of all that is needful, acknowledge their need, and worship.” (Jen Wilkin, None Like Him. Pg 63)
However, we feel that sense of need and often fight it. “There must be something wrong with us.” It is uncomfortable to sit with our weaknesses. We want to figure out a foolproof plan and get on with it; four easy steps to a better life. But as Ray Ortlund explained,
“weakness is not one more experience alongside all these other experiences. Weakness is the foundational platform on which we have all experiences. We have never known for one nanosecond in this life a moment of non-weakness.” (Ray Ortlund, Panel discussion, TGC West)
Our weakness is inescapable. It humbles our prideful hearts, and ultimately, it shows us that God is neither weak nor needy.
God needs nothing.
A need is something that is essential to us; something or someone that is necessary for our existence. As humans, we have several needs: food, water, shelter. But we also need other people, sleep, affection, meaning, and significance for our lives. These needs control us in some way. We need a place to live and food to eat so we work to provide. We need people because we don’t like to feel lonely so we surround ourselves with friends and family. We even need daily systems like alarm clocks and calendar reminders because we cannot remember what to do or where to go. We need toilet paper and diapers so we stand in lines outside the grocery store. Our neediness is ever-present. Yet God has no needs and thus cannot be controlled by anything. He is completely sufficient in and of Himself. This is the best news for you and me. God’s character is perfect and eternal. He cannot change nor does he want to change. If God had need of something then that would mean there was something bigger than God Himself.
And His creation of you and me was not out of need either. God did not need people to fill some longing—He already enjoyed perfect fellowship within Himself. Yet out of the love of a perfect Creator, He created.
My children frequently create pictures or form objects out of a random assortment of items. This adds nothing to who they are but they enjoy these creations immensely. They create because they love to do it and it displays their creative ability. In some small way it is with God. God does not need any part of His creation. It is His glory on display. God did not create because he needed to, but because he wanted to. Our very existence is due to God’s commitment to display His glory in His creation.
He satisfies our every need.
Because God has no need, He is the safest place to rest our needy selves. Because he cannot be thwarted or manipulated by need He will not waiver or fail. We can depend on Him because He is eternally and supernaturally dependable. This is somewhat unfathomable to our finite minds. We see this reflected, in part, through faithful people. But as our experience has proven, people will always let us down at some point.
We put our trust and satisfaction in a person but that person will inevitably fail us.
We trust a government or organization to make wise and just decisions but both are fleeting. They will crumble. Justice will not come. Nations will rise and fall.
We might put our trust in plans but, as this coronavirus has shown us, circumstances outside our control can easily change any forethought we have. We make plans but the Lord ordains our steps.
We were created needy to push us back to the One who can not only satisfy our every need but who can satisfy our weak and wandering heart. Our every need is met in His tender hand. We have a need for union with God – which is the entire story of the Holy Scripture – God providing the requirements for that very need.
Our weakness is a God-given gift through which we display His power and goodness. The apostle Paul felt his own weakness and cried out to the Lord. But God didn’t eradicate his neediness, He used it.
“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 weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The power and mercy of God is displayed in my weakness. In weakness, I could not rescue myself for the power and penalty of sin. In power, Christ defeated the enemy and rescued me. In weakness, I was unable to direct my own stony heart. In power, Christ gave me a heart of flesh that I might know and love him. In weakness, I cannot ‘hold it all together.’ In power, Christ upholds the universe by the power of His word.
I am weak, but Christ is strong. Rather than frantically working to cover my weakness in a thin veil of carefully crafted Instagram posts, perfectly manicured children, and Pinterest-worthy meal plans, I must find my strength in the Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me. I am loved not because I am strong but because I am His. There is power in weakness. I must view my weakness, with all of its ugliness and inconvenience, as an opportunity to display the power of Christ.
On that Easter morning I felt broken, exposed, and helpless. But that is exactly where the mercy of God finds us. He picks us up, binds our wounds, and calls us by name. We are weak, but we are His.
Hannah is the wife of Buck Run’s Senior Associate Pastor, Chris Parrish, the mom to Elizabeth and Henry, and serves Buck Run in a variety of ways including as a disciple-maker. You can learn more about Hannah from her recent appearance on Pastor Wives Chat with Tanya York.