Sunday, April 6, 2008

Living with Weakness

As I get older, I’m often troubled by the symptoms of aging. Aches and pains are bad enough, never mind not having as sharp a memory as I used to, but what bothers me more is the threat of losing my ability to walk with the Lord.

Today’s reading in God is Enough was another of the author’s rants about the human will being the core governing force in a Christian’s life. I’ve already argued from Scripture that this idea is hogwash—the core force in our lives is the Holy Spirit. Instead of going through that again, I turned to another devotional, a book of selections by great preachers. Today’s reading was from C. H. Spurgeon. Again I am amazed at Lord’s way of lining up what I need to hear with what He directs me to read.

This devotional reading describes how the only way this world is like the Garden of Eden is that the serpent is in it, making tracks all over it. Because of him and sin, everyone bears a weakness of some sort or other and Christians are not exempt.

I immediately thought of several areas of weakness in my life, weaknesses that I’d rather not have. Then Spurgeon writes this, “To bear that weakness is not difficult when the spirit is sound and strong.” He quotes Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?

I thought of 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Spurgeon goes on. “If you want to bear your trouble without complaining, if you want to sustain your burden without fainting, you must. . . . be in living union with him who is the Strong One and who, by the life that he implants within you, can give you from his own strength. I do not believe that anything but that which is divine will stand the wear and tear of this world’s temptations and of this world’s trials and troubles.”

I thought of the other reading and agreed. By the power of my own will, I cannot stand the wear and tear of temptations, trials and troubles. For this, I need the Spirit of God and the strength that He gives to the inner me.

Spurgeon also points to John Bunyan who wrote great books while in a dungeon. This man could have said if you are in chains, “till the moss grew on your eyelids, yet, as long as you were sure that you were cleansed from sin by the precious blood of Christ, you could bear it all. . . . Take sin away and give me a spirit washed in the fountain filled with blood, and I can patiently go through anything and everything, the Lord being my Helper.”

Those verses from 2 Corinthians remind me that my spirit and my body are not the same thing. The body will become weaker; that is part of life. Yet a sound spirit has a growing confidence in God and that never weakens.

The Lord also brings to mind His words to Paul when he fretting about a “thorn in the flesh.” Whatever that thorn was does not matter, but His words are wonderful. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As Spurgeon says, this is about believing, about trusting God, not myself, and “someone who can trust can work; someone who can trust can suffer.”

He adds that a perfectly consecrated spirit can endure sickness, loss, trial, sorrow, and a whole host of weaknesses because the person who lives only for God’s glory looks to see not how to comfort herself or himself but how to most successfully fight the Master’s battles.

With that timely exhortation, I can stop fretting and put on my spiritual armor. Again, this life with Christ is not about me or what I can or cannot do. It is about Jesus—and He is enough.

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