I don’t like to appear weak or needy. In fact, I will go to great lengths to avoid this and to portray an image of strength, even in the face of weakness. I suspect some of this comes from my slightly stubborn and determined personality. But honestly, most of my insecurities stem from fear and pride. I’m afraid my weaknesses might somehow disqualify me from some future opportunity and might cause others to lose their respect for me.
I didn’t realize I had a fear of weakness until I became physically weak. Some of you know my story—how I grew sick in 2011. And while I’m so much better than I was, I’m still far from the athlete I once considered myself to be. Sometimes, oftentimes, actually, I’m afraid to admit why: I have fibromyalgia, though I hide my symptoms well. I’ve learned to smile through the pain and shake off the fatigue—until I come home. There, nestled in the security of my husband’s love, my true and often hurting self emerges.
Like I indicated, my insecurities stem from a fear of missing out. Of being labeled by my weaknesses rather than my strengths. Of being discounted before I even try. Of having to fight not just my inherent limitations, but other people’s false perceptions as well. In short, my fears stem from a failure to rest in God’s sovereignty and grace.
One hot, summer afternoon, I sensed God’s nudge to share how He’d met me in my struggle—how He became my strength during a time of weakness. But out of fear and shame, I remained quiet. As I explained to God why—all I feared might happen should I step out from behind my carefully erected veneer, He reminded me of a faith-bolstering truth.
He’d called me. Long before I took my first breath, committed my first sin, ran my first triathlon, or acquired my first illness. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). This means God has a plan for me and my life, a wonderful, eternally significant plan. That plan absolutely must include my current condition, because He set His plan into motion before my diagnosis. What’s more, Psalm 139:16 tells me that every day of my life was recorded in God’s book before a single one came to pass.
But the original Hebrew goes deeper. It says, in essence, “All the days fashioned, or molded into form, for me …” Combined with Ephesians 2:10, this creates an image of a patient, loving, intentional craftsman molding a pliable, not yet perfected lump of clay into His masterpiece. The pushing, squeezing, and molding hurts, absolutely. But never without purpose. Never without hope.
My condition cannot limit the call God’s placed on my life. It may, in fact, reveal that call more clearly. Though I don’t believe He gave me fibromyalgia, He can and will use it to reveal the gospel. As I lean on Him, the only One able to bring strength from my weakness, I proclaim a God bigger than everything hard, broken, tarnished, and incomplete in this world. And as I long for restoration and health, He lifts my heart to thoughts of eternity where He’ll one day make all things right. Where there will be no more pain, no more sickness, no weakness or sin. Nothing but light and life and love as we, God’s children, stand in the presence of the One who is light and love.
So in the meantime, I serve, honestly, faithfully, and authentically, focusing not on how others perceive me but rather how I reveal my God.
Fear of weakness, at its root, is an idolatry problem. It stems from a failure to lose myself completely in my Lord, the One who gave Himself completely for me. I conquer this fear not through fighting for strength but rather choosing surrender. Choosing to lose myself in a battle greater than me.
Let’s talk about this! When has your weakness caused you to rely on God and therefore turned to a strength? When has your strength resulted in self-reliance and therefore turned to a weakness?
Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group, listen to the first two episodes of her Faith Over Fear podcast HERE and find her free Bible reading plan HERE.
Don’t Fear Weakness by Bear Grylls