The Strength of Weakness"
"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 12:10 (NIV)
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, I knew.
For years I’d dreamed of being a writer. In between mothering a houseful of monkeys (a.k.a. children), I’d hunker down over my laptop and wrestle with words. But navigating the tension between dream and duty seemed impossible.
Until, one day, an email landed in my inbox.
"We’d like to invite you to be one of our speakers …"
A speaking invitation. To a national conference.
Hope rallied. I stared at the screen in disbelief. A break, finally! I couldn’t mess it up.
But soon after, the unthinkable happened. Three short months before the speaking date, with a single phone call from my doctor, my world collapsed.
Cancer. Of the tongue.
It made zero sense. I was a healthy 39-year-old mom. I ate right, exercised. Heck, I even flossed. That deserved bonus points.
But cancer is no respecter of persons, I’d learn soon enough. It plows through a life like an unmanned car, destroying individuals, families and dreams without the slightest hesitation.
What followed in the months after that unexpected phone call involved an upheaval that’s still hard to describe. Only those who have endured the unthinkable understand how quickly a life can change. Unending doctor appointments. Countless tests and scans. Major surgery to remove part of my tongue. Long, painful months of recovery.
But the physical trauma was only a fraction of my nightmare. The hardest part was the unanswerable questions:
God, why? Where are You in all of this? Will I ever eat or speak normally again?
Will I live?
By the first day of the conference, I’d shrunk to a fraction of myself. Cancer had zapped my strength. Fear and unknowns had claimed my confidence. I considered canceling. Who was I to talk about peace and faith? I had nothing to offer. Nothing except my broken and battered self.
Intent on keeping my promise, I made my way to the conference venue. But moments after arriving, pain gripped me again.
God, help me!
Grabbing ibuprofen, I headed for the water fountain. That’s when I heard my name.
"Michele, hold on," a female voice whispered. It was Erika. One of the conference staff. Before I could answer, she grabbed my behind.
Yes. Erika’s hand. On my derrière.
"Excuse me?" I might’ve slapped her. We didn’t know each other that well.
"Hold on a minute." She maintained her grip. "You lost your skirt."
"Your skirt fell. I’m pulling it back up."
Sure enough, the long chocolate brown skirt I’d meticulously ironed and donned an hour before had dropped well below the tree line. An unfortunate consequence of months of weight loss. In a room filled with conference staff and speakers I wanted to impress, I’d exposed the lesser version of myself.
Isn’t that nice.
Even so, something shifted. What began as my mortification became my salvation. For a lifetime, I’d exhausted myself trying to be "enough," to deliver the polished and put-together me I believed God and the world demanded.
Then cancer. Fear. A shaken faith. And a skirt malfunction.
That’s when God delivered an unexpected healing. You see, there’s nothing wrong with doing my best. And excellence certainly has its place. But in all my trying I’d missed a beautiful truth: The strength of weakness.
As our key verse of 2 Corinthians 12:10 reminds us, when we are weak, we are strong.
Yes, I’d been striving to be good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, faithful enough. But in the process, I’d forgotten Jesus’ offering of relief:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," (Matthew 11:28, NIV).
It’s what this cancer-fighting, failure-feeling mama needed. A grace-loving God big enough to take the pressure off her and put it squarely on Himself.
Turns out it’s what the women at the conference needed, too.
My friends, ministry — of the purest kind — isn’t about impressing others with a flawless life. It’s not about polished presentations, perfect families and always-put-together women.
It’s about daring to expose our hidden imperfections and giving others permission to do the same. Becoming a fellow struggler, faith wrestler and hand-holder who delivers zero judgment but instead offers oceans of presence and grace.
Why? Because we have a God who says we’re enough. Just as we are.
Even when our skirts fall to the floor.
God, heal me of my desperate striving! Help me to believe and rest in the truth that I am enough, because I am Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (NIV)