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Best of Daily Reflections: The Strength of Working Weak

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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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 12:6-10

This business is hard. That’s how I complain. As an author toiling for Christ in commercial publishing, I often feel overwhelmed and defeated.

With every word, I’m competing with hundreds of thousands of authors who publish books every year—each one fighting to make our mark.

Risky business? Indeed. Even if the danger simply is quitting.

Struggling alone at a keyboard for months and sometimes years, authors pour our souls onto page after page, surrendering our names and faces for placement on a book jacket, knowing some nameless reviewer may trash the whole enterprise.

Then on a recent day, a light went on. Trying as usual to work in my own strength, I reflected on how my surges of self-sufficiency leave me feeling not good and strong but prideful and icky.

The Apostle Paul understood that feeling. Afflicted with that iconic thorn in the flesh from which he begged the Lord three times for deliverance, Paul finally came to boast in his weakness, declaring, “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

I relied on that truth during a recent book promotion challenge.

Booked on a national morning television show, I hit a wall. What would I say? How would I say it? What if I bombed? Totally crashed and burned?

Standing on set as technicians set up cameras, tapes, and whatnot, I felt anxiety beyond words. Tongue-tied doesn’t begin to describe my anxiety. I’d had media training, yet I felt utterly unprepared.

As a knot of people bustled about, I looked around for help—then saw one publicity-team member standing quietly alone.

“Do you pray?” I asked her. She’s a Christian and works for a Christian-owned company. Still, in my weakness I needed to know. “Do you pray?”

She said yes, reaching for my hands. Then she confessed both our needs, calling on the Lord in our weakness for what we thought we lacked—deep strength. But as Paul came to understand, when we are weak and ask God to supply, God’s strength skyrockets.

I once believed that I was in the book business. Now I understand I am in ministry.

Not ordained, not licensed, just authorized but by the blood of Christ to serve. Thus, I truly need your strength, Lord. Not for myself, but for those who need your help.

Overwhelmed by my incompetence, I sought the Lord’s all. Therefore, the next week when the program aired, all I saw was God. Not me. Not my media training. Just an all-supplying God.

If I had functioned in my sufficiency, God can’t get the glory. Yep, that’s church talk, as such. Yet in seeking his strength, I finally rose from working for me to worship. Little me co-laboring with big God.

Somehow the equation feels right. Even better, the work feels holy. Maybe then it finally is.

BIBLE PASSAGE:

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 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 12:6-10

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Where in your work life do you feel vulnerable or weak? What keeps you from asking the Lord for his strength? Why does God’s grace trump our competence? How can “boasting in your weakness” become not just “church talk,” but a way of life?

PRAYER: On my own, O Lord, I am a weak mess. But in that incompetent space, you allow me to call on you. Thank you for answering by empowering by your Spirit with strength, purpose, and love. Amen.

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