Throughout my childhood, I remember my brother breaking, fracturing, or twisting some part of his leg at least two or three times. Each of these times, he was put into a cast, boot, or brace of some sort and at least once he was ordered to use crutches. Now, thankfully I've never had a broken leg so I've never needed to use crutches, but just like every kid I've tried them out just to see what it's like.
And let me tell you, they are not a pleasant experience.
They make your armpits sore, your hands tired, and make maneuvering stairs, uneven sidewalks, and anything besides concrete quite difficult. However, they make walking while down and out possible, so they're seen as an assistance rather than a nuisance.
They make walking in weakness do-able.
Throughout the past several years of my life, the pain that I've been more familiar with is an invisible pain. It cuts deeper than the pain of a broken bone or sprained ankle because no one else can see it. Heartbreak, confusion, betrayal, and doubt all cloud my view at times and some days make the thought of going through another day incredibly difficult.
And for this type of pain, I can't pick up a crutch to get me through the day.
The fix is something much deeper and much more complicated.
In fact, maybe the fix is not fixing it.
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he begins chapter twelve by telling the church about the visions he was having. Because of these visions, he was beginning to become conceited. Verses seven and eight depict this:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-8 (ESV)
Paul's pain was this thorn that God would not remove. Maybe your pain looks different than mine. Maybe it's a broken foot, a broken heart, or a thorn in your side. No matter what it is, everyone faces pain.
Paul continues on:
“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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
In our weakness, our sweet Jesus comes down to us and walks with us. His power fills the void that our weakness leaves and makes us whole, thus giving Him glory.
As our Lord strengthens us in the midst of our weaknesses we know even more deeply and powerfully His grace, power and goodness.
As we walk on this earth, we will always face difficulties, pain, and sorrow, but our God is bigger than these things and makes Himself known in these moments of weakness. He comes to us in His body and blood, the waters of Baptism, and in His Word. He also sends His Spirit to help us. Even when we are so weak that we do not know what to pray, our God steps in and fills our emptiness.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Romans 8:26 ESV
Walking in Weakness,
PS: If you find that you are in a season of walking in weakness, check out Hope When Your Heart Breaks: Navigating Grief and Loss by Michael W. Newman.