The strength of God – June 29
“Whoever knows the feebleness of human nature
has acquired an experience of the strength of God”.
There is a paradox at the heart of Christian spirituality: to grow strong we need to be weak! Like all paradoxes, out of two seemingly contradictory propositions, comes a new insight. St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10), has something to say about this. He speaks about boasting of his weaknesses rather than of his spiritual strength, but before he surrendered to that he begged God to take away the ‘thorn in his flesh’, to allow him to be strong. Paul, like most people, wanted to move beyond weakness and affliction in order to manifest the strength of God in his life, but the path he was led along was that of learning that God’s strength is seen and known precisely because of his own weakness. The ability to look into our hearts and lives, see our weaknesses and not want to flee from them, requires both humility and courage. Refusing to acknowledge this can lead to defensiveness and hardening. It can lead to stagnation. When we are so busy defending ourselves and can never admit to any imperfection, there is no way we can be open to the promptings of God’s Spirit leading us into what is life-giving and loving. On the contrary, a healthy sense of self opens the door to God’s grace – that gift of God’s love and empowering in our lives. And this is what Paul knew too. It is the recognition of our limits that may bring us to our knees and thereby open up a new world of possibility for life and love.