or, Helpless but not Hopeless
There are times when we feel abject helplessness. As much as we may fight against that thought, it’s part of the human terrain. The causes are myriad: experiencing an unexpected loss, being confronted by tragedy, unrelenting illness, betrayal by a loved one, that hurtful surprise that can manifest itself in so many ways, and so on. Circumstances such as these can produce a sorrow that attaches itself to our deepest inner parts, unseen but vey tangible nonetheless.
This pain of this helplessness exposes any façade that tries to communicate that we`re in control. It unmasks ways we misunderstand and therefore misapply Paul`s pronouncement that he is able to “do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), reducing it to “I can do all things.”
Our truth is that, in cosmic terms, we are weak, despite any pride-based protestations to the contrary. The “strength” we exert is often an expression of our ego’s desire to assert itself. We may do well for awhile, but sooner or later, the event that reveals our helplessness reminds us that control is an illusion. We would do well to remember that it is only “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
The balloon of the Apostle Paul’s own tendency for hubris was burst repeatedly by the difficulties and hard circumstances GOD allowed in his life, which ironically made his ministry so powerful for it was due to God’s grace and not Paul’s pedigree or self-defined aspirations (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). This was a gift, strangely wrapped, but a gift nonetheless. Perhaps the abundant life Jesus came to give (John 10:10) is paradoxically rooted in our willingness to surrender to the reality of our weakness so that grace is given space to do what only grace can do. This seems to be the pattern in the lives of Jesus and Paul and all those we consider people of deep faith and spiritual reserve, whether ancient or contemporary.
The sons of Korah (liturgical Temple choir of ancient Israel) sang: “GOD is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1-2). Perhaps trusting that God’s “riches in glory” are sufficient for whatever helplessness we experience, that is, not running from or denying our weakness but offering it to Him as an acknowledgment of dependence and faith may be the pathway to the strength we need in order to overcome. Perhaps that is a gift from Him that only requires that we receive it.
One of my favorite psalms of David is 131:
My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty. I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself. I am like a weaned child with it’s mother, like A weaned child, I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, Both now and forevermore.
Peace and Blessings.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2018. All rights reserved for text content.