Strength in Weakness
I had just finished working on a different blog post when I looked up at a tissue box that said “ultra soft and strong.” Honestly, as silly as it sounds, I found it to be very profound. We live in a culture where vulnerability and strength are complete opposites. We are told that we’ve got to pull up our bootstraps and quit cryin’. When somebody asks how you’re doing, you tell them you’re good, and never mind if that’s the truth or a big fat lie. This concept is complete and utter trash that we constantly perpetuate. It needs to stop and it is not at all biblical. Our emotions were created by God and put in us. Yes, we can be deceived by them and they’re sometimes tricky (Jeremiah 17:9), but they can also be wonderful within the proper context. When a new grandmother sees her brand new grandchild for the first time, her eyes might flood with tears. When you had a really hard day and you come home to a clean house and a nice dinner cooked just for you by your husband, you might shed a tear or two of relief and gratitude. Maybe you’re the one who cries at those emotional soldier homecoming videos. These scenarios may seem a little more socially acceptable to invoke tears in the life of a woman, and to a degree, they are. But what about the darker side of emotion? When you’re totally frustrated with God and don’t see His hand in your life. When your step daughter just got into a car accident. When you aren’t quite sure how you’re going to provide dinners for your family for the next week. In situations like these, why is it okay for girls to cry, but never for a man to cry? Why are we, especially boys, taught from such a young age that we must hide our emotions? In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, referring to some unknown struggles in his life, Paul writes,
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Now given, the chances are, Paul was in a much different set of life circumstances than you and I. You probably haven’t ever been whipped or imprisoned for your faith. But we all share in weaknesses. We share in sin struggles and past hurts. We share in gripping, heavy emotions of watching our loved ones make poor choices and it can just hurt our hearts sometimes. My hope is that we, men particularly, will let Christ be strong in us by not trying to mask our weakness. That men will learn to be honest and open with each other and deal with real life. That we won’t try to be strong in ourselves by guarding our emotions and blocking others out. Galatians 6:2 commands us to “bear one another’s burdens.” This can range anywhere from financial needs, other physical needs, all the way on the other end of the spectrum to emotional needs. If we’re commanded to bear one another’s burdens, I think it’s implied that in community we should share our needs and let ourselves be loved by the Christians around us. We are emotional creatures and need not be ashamed of it. It’s a beautiful thing that God put inside of us, both men and women. Granted, as I mentioned earlier, our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and we need to check our emotions with the truth. We don’t want to let our emotions rule us or lie to us, but we need to process them in a healthy environment. Men are called to be leaders wherever they are, so it’s important to maintain emotional health. You don’t want to be a mess all the time, crying every day over the most miniscule things. However, it’s equally unhealthy to refrain from processing grief or pain that is held in the deepest parts of our hearts.
Let Jesus be strong this week, friends. Share burdens and bear the burdens of others. Let the unlimited strength of God shine through you by praying for and reaching out for the healing you need. It is readily available in the person of Jesus Christ. Healing comes from vulnerability with other believers, time in the word, prayer and accountability. If any of you reading this now, know any of us at The Nerdy Theologian personally or know of us, we would love to chat. We would love to help bear your burden if necessary. We are available on Facebook and by email. No worries about being judged either, anyone who knows any of us will testify that none of us has it all together, ha. We are just sinners that want to love other sinners and follow Jesus together.
Mercy and grace,