On Weakness, Insufficiency, and God's Grace

Originally published Sunday, 24 January 2016.

I have a confession. I don't like weakness. I don't like feeling helpless. I don't like not knowing how to do something. I don't like feeling incapable. I don't like being insufficient.

To make matters worse, there are many areas of my life where I find myself feeling weak, helpless, and incapable: motherhood, homeschooling, ministry, marriage, and friendship.  I have several new projects and ministry opportunities I am working on this year and while I am excited about each of them, I am also overwhelmed by my insufficiency. I lack wisdom, strength, and experience. 

And while I'm being honest, I might as well admit that I feel most weak, incapable, and insufficient about my first book coming out this spring. Sometimes, I'm downright terrified about it. You may think it strange to be terrified about such an exciting event. Many writers compare writing a book to having a child and that's how I feel--excited but also terrified. 

Have you ever been in a place where you simply don't know what to do? Or feel inadequate? Perhaps you've been given a great responsibility and you know you don't have it in you to accomplish it. The task looms large and impossible before you. Failure seems certain.  

If you are in a similar place as I, where you feel the depths of your insufficiency, the gospel speaks right to our problem. It reminds us that yes, we are insufficient, but Christ was sufficient for us when he lived a perfect life in our place. It reminds us that he took the wrath of God that we deserved when he bore all our sins on the cross. Through faith in Christ, God looks at us and doesn't see our insufficiency. He sees Christ's sufficiency instead. So we are sufficient in our insufficiency because Christ was sufficient for us.

But that's not the end of the good news. God is at work, even now, making us increasingly sufficient and capable. He is working in us, through all our weaknesses, and making us useful for his Kingdom purposes. God did not save us because we were sufficient on our own and he doesn't use us because we are already capable.  

Unlike applying for a job where you have to present the necessary skills and experience to get the job, with God, he doesn't use people who are already experienced and capable. Moses was not a natural born leader. David was the youngest of all his brothers. Mary was not the natural choice to mother a King. Uneducated Peter was an unlikely candidate to start the church. But in God's unexpected and upside down Kingdom, he uses the weak and helpless and makes them capable and sufficient. As God works in us, people don't see our strength and wisdom but the strength and wisdom of God through us. And God gets the glory. 

The wonder of God's grace is that we have everything we need to do what God has called us to. "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" (2 Peter 1:3-4). "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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). This means that when God calls us to a task, he gives us everything we need to accomplish it through Christ. 

So being in a place where we feel insufficient, incapable, and weak is exactly where we need to be. We don't have to fear being there. We don't have to fear not knowing what to do because we have everything we need in Christ. He is our sufficiency both in our salvation and in our sanctification. And he has promised to finish the work he started in us (Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 1:8). 

In my own life, as I consider the tasks before me, I don't have to despair over my weaknesses. I don't have to worry about completing the tasks God has given me. Instead, I can rest knowing that Christ is sufficient for me. Like Paul, I can even boast in my weakness, knowing that God will get the glory. Whatever God calls me to this year, he will make me capable. Through Christ, I am sufficient in my insufficiency.

And so are you.