Okay ~ how’s this for the kick-off to my Tour de Crap?!!
Actually, I’m not sure if any commentary is needed except to say, “OMG ~ Can you see how thoroughly convinced I was of the martyr mentality?!!”
WHEN I AM WEAK
by vyckie bennett
During a dinner-table conversation a couple of weeks back, Warren was expounding on the children’s song, Jesus Loves Me. He wanted to make the point to our children that when we are weak, Jesus shows Himself strong. Later in the conversation, he commented that we should “make ourselves weak” so that Jesus’ strength can be made manifest in our lives.
Make ourselves weak? Now that sounded a bit odd to my ears. After all, self-improvement is one of the great American values – right up there with self-reliance, choice, tolerance, and unity in diversity.
Check the local bookstores: a myriad of “self-help” books top the bestseller lists. Advice columns are among the most popular in the local paper, fitness centers are booming businesses, everyone is on a diet, community college classes fill up fast, we wait for hours for our turn at the doctor, dentist or mental health offices as we’re all seeking to improve our lives.
Sure, we all have our struggles … relationships disappoint, finances are always tight, our youthful stamina and good looks fade, we are not immune to various health problems, stuff happens and we find that we need help – who among us couldn’t stand a bit of self-improvement now and again?
Lest I should be exalted above measure …
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So in response to Warren’s admonition, I’m thinking, “Life has a way of providing plentiful opportunities to show Christ’s strength in our weakness – why should we, then make ourselves weak?” Still, I could not easily dismiss the thought that in all our strivings for self-improvement, how much room do we allow for God’s strength to shine forth in our lives?
Avoidance of pain, suffering, and persecution are as American as apple pie. If we step back and take a look at Christian history, we find that “the pursuit of happiness” has not always been the norm for the people of God.
During our devotional times, our family has been studying early Church history. We were perplexed to read of Christians who eagerly gave themselves up to authorities – these people actually wanted to suffer martyrdom. Hmmm….
The apostle Paul said, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (v.10) What does it mean to “glory in” or to “take pleasure” in infirmities?
Well … I’m still contemplating all of this. But, I do recognize that much of the Church’s failings today can be traced back to our studied avoidance of trouble and hardship.
Protest outside an abortion clinic? That’s too radical How about volunteer at the Crisis Pregnancy Center? Well, I’m pretty busy. Adopt an orphan or special needs child? Of course, our finances are just too tight right now. Visit the elderly? We can probably do that … maybe once a month and then go out for pie and hot chocolate. Yeah, we should do that sometime. Shut off the boob-tube? We just have it on for noise. Write to my representative? I’m sure he’s received piles of mail already. Give to the Rescue Mission? Can’t those guys get a job? Prison ministry? Well, isn’t So-and-So already doing that? Preach the gospel? I don’t really have the gift of evangelism.
What would the Body of Christ look like today if we were to embrace our weaknesses? Not enough money or patience to have another baby? Take heed to your spirit for He desires godly seed. (Malachi 2:15) Does it seem awkward to get involved in the lives of the single mom and her children next door? Pure religion demands that you do so. (James 1:27) Homeschooling not for you? Whose image do your children bear? The image of God? Why render them unto Caesar? (Matt. 22:20,21) Too tongue-tied to witness to your co-worker? Speak up! Preach not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:4)
The very areas in which we feel inadequate – lacking in resources and talent – these are the things which we should do eagerly because “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (1 Cor. 2:5)
May your faith not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God
Well actually ~ after reading this article that I wrote ~ which appeared in my own newspaper and was reprinted in several home school magazines ~ I do have a couple things to say:
This is the level of conviction required for a woman to continue year after year in the harsh and demanding Quiverfull lifestyle. Much of the literature which is readily available through home school curriculum suppliers focuses on the early church martyrs and present day persecuted church. Placing so much emphasis on the suffering of the Saints enables Quiverfull moms & kids to rationalize their own heavy burdens and the incredible amount of work (slavery) which they are undertaking in the service of God. I used to think to myself, “Hey ~ at least nobody’s burning me at the stake or feeding me to the lions.”
Another observation that leaped out at me as I was reading this was my old air of superiority ~ I just assumed that other “Christians” were self-indulgent and unwilling to make any personal sacrifices. Ugh. Like I said ~ It’s about SUPERIORITY.
“The very areas in which we feel inadequate…” see where I was preaching to myself here? I knew that my body is not cut out for childbearing ~ and yet, I had to convince myself that I should be “eager” to have more babies ~ I needed to rely not on “the wisdom of men” (such as my grandma who constantly told me that God gave me brains to know how to avoid another disastrous pregnancy ~ so why not use them?) ~ but rather, I had to have faith in “the power of God.”
Notice how, when I initially disagreed with my husband ~ I was able to think and think until I found a way for him to be right. Sure made Warren much easier to get along with whenever he could be right ~ but as several readers here have commented ~ giving an immature man what he wants (as opposed to what he needs) is a sure-fire way to create a tyrant.