She sat down like it was any other day in class—except that her eyes filled with tears, and she looked confused, as if she’d been spun around half a dozen times. Breeanne, her close friend, tried to calm her down like a newborn child. “Shhh,” Bree said. “I’m sorry Cassi. I’m sorry . . .”
Ten minutes earlier, Cassi received the dreaded call. Her step-father had a sudden stroke, followed by a heart attack over the weekend. He had been clinging to his life for the last two days. . . but his grip sadly gave way just moments before the red eyed sixteen year old walked in—as if nothing had happened.
But something had. Something big.
So I pulled her out into the hallway and asked, “Cassi can I help with something? Can you tell me what’s going on (I had a good idea what had happened)?”
“He’s gone! Or just about. They made the decision to take him off life support in just a few minutes,” she replied in between sobs.
“I’m so sorry to hear that.” There are never the right words to say at moments like this. I can’t even pretend to come close. “So . . . why are you here?” I pointed back to the room. “Why are you in class?”
“I’m okay. Besides I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know where else to go?”
I thought, You’re okay? You’re step-dad just died and you’re tell me that you’re okay? “Um . . . well Cassi I’m kicking you out of class today because I want you to do something . . .”
She nodded, likely wondering what her mad scientist of a teacher had in mind.
“I want you to go in the sanctuary (I teach at a private Christian school) with Bree. And I want you to cry. I want you to grieve. I want you to quit trying to be strong right now . . . because you don’t have to be. Okay?”
“Okay. Okay I’ll go.”
Cassi needed her moment to grieve. She needed her place to be vulnerable. She needed to remember it was okay not to have the answers. And she needed to remember that she didn’t have to have a steel-like resolve.
I think we can all use that reminder.
I think at some point we’ve all bought into the idea of “being strong enough.” We’ve all bit our lip and called ourselves a “fighter who won’t ever quit.” Somewhere down the road, perhaps we decided that we can set aside our emotions, and simply find the answers and get on with life. Nothing will slow us down! Nothing slowed me down!
I favored plowing through whatever life brought my way like they were Styrofoam peanuts. And for the most part, the world applauded such resilience.
There is one problem though. When you’re strong enough and have all the answers, then you need no one else. You need no God to get you through. And more problems will inevitably shower you like rain.
In my case, my most important relationships began to crumble.
I’m pretty sure then that’s why Jesus is fine with us broken, on our knees, and weak. I know it’s a crazy idea, but God has a penchant for doing things that we can’t comprehend. Just ask the apostle Paul.
He suffered a physical ailment. So he asked God three times to take this thorn away! But God said, “‘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.”(2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Become weak to be strong?
Boast in our weakness?
I can vouch for this crazy truth.
An ironic thing happened when I crumbled to my knees. I drew on God’s strength when I cried out to Jesus, and confessed my desperate need for Him. His Word filled my soul. The Holy Spirit renewed (and is renewing) me and revealed the darkest recesses and secret corners of my heart.
In my weakness, God’s strength and power delivered me from my circumstances and afflictions . . . as he delivered Paul, as He will deliver Cassi from hers, and as He can deliver you from yours.
So what’s your response been to all the bumps on the road? How have you responded to tragedy? What have you conveyed to others?
Have you ever faked a smile and forced the words, “I’m okay?” How many days have we prolonged God’s strength to fill us when we adamantly pretend we don’t need it? How often have we kept God’s glory from others, when we attribute our conquered trials to our own efforts?
Here then are three simple steps to boast in your weaknesses, to grow stronger in Jesus, and display the miracles He can work in our lives when we simply depend on Him.
- Consider areas in your life that you portray falsely or hide from others. For example, my wife and I struggled in our marriage when I was in full-time ministry. Guess what we never made known to others?
- List these areas on paper and confess them to God. Pray something like, “Jesus, I need you to intervene in ____. I can’t do it on my own. But in my weakness Lord, may Your strength be revealed!”
- Share this list with someone you trust and exchange prayers with each other. When you do, be ready for God to show up. Because he will.
Remember that you don’t have to be strong enough. You don’t have to be okay. Be honest with yourself and your weaknesses. And in that, God will be glorified.