The Gift Nobody Wants
March 22, 2023 | Monty Waldron
vuhl-ner-uh-buhl – capable of being physically or emotionally wounded; exposed; open to attack or damage; assailable.
When was the last time you felt that way? Whether ten minutes ago or ten months ago, I can’t imagine it was an enjoyable experience. It is, however, difficult to imagine NOT doing anything and everything to get out of and away from whatever it was that prompted the feeling to begin with!
For some, that feeling is a way of life. Think of those who are defenseless...impoverished, oppressed, ill, very young or very old. There is little to nothing that can be done by the one exposed. He or she is ultimately dependent upon something or someone who can come to their aid; do for them what they cannot do for themselves.
Whether we feel that way or not, isn’t vulnerability a great description of the human condition? Doesn’t everyone have chinks in their armor—“soft spots” so to speak? No one that I know of is invincible. I’ve never met a person who is impervious to the difficulties of living in a broken, sin-wrecked world. Sure, some folks are more insulated than others. But sickness, accidents, natural disasters, violence, economic downturns—you get the picture—can touch anyone, anywhere.
Beyond all that, every person who has ever lived has walked this planet toward a day when they would breath their last. Death comes to us all. So, ultimately we are ALL vulnerable.
We experience the reality of that condition more or less than one another, but there are no exceptions. We are all subject to a world that is bigger than us, and out of our control.
What we do with that reality is monumental.
Some are naturally paralyzed, overcome by the threat of it all. Others grit their teeth and dig in with all the fight they can muster. Still others grasp in every direction for anything that will numb the pain, worldly attempts to mask the symptoms of our frailty.
I suppose what we are after is some kind of power that enables us to feel less vulnerable, even if that power is a counterfeit, an alternate reality we conjure to calm our troubled hearts.
There’s another way.
It seems strange. Counter-intuitive. A paradox for sure!
The weaker we perceive ourselves to be; the more powerless we feel in and of ourselves; the more we embrace our very real vulnerability...the more fit we are to receive sustaining power that isn’t of this world. Vulnerability, then, is less a threat, and much more a gift.
Said another way, the more we relinquish the idea that we are self-sufficient, the more room there is for us to truly experience the sufficiency of Christ. And that is just what we need. In fact, it is all that we need to navigate the shadowlands of this world.
The apostle Paul transparently shares the truth of this concept from his own story in his second letter to the Church in Corinth.
2 Corinthians 12:7–9a “…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. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I’m sure it took a minute for Paul to fully embrace that concept for himself. But eventually, it became the primary lens through which he saw himself. “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)
As Easter approaches, would you join me on a journey into our vulnerability? Would you ask God to help us see our greatest needs so clearly that we would lean wholeheartedly into his sufficiency? It may just make this Easter celebration as transformative as any we’ve experienced.
I look forward to worshiping with you Good Friday (April 7th) and Easter Sunday (April 9th)!