Friday, March 13, 2015

Vulnerability is Your Shield

Pride, self-sufficiency and self-reliance are dangerous business for us Christians. That being the case, have you ever thought that, ironically, paradoxically, your weakness and vulnerability may be a shield of protection for you?

When Augustine sought to encourage a poor, suffering widow, he said this very thing. In his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Tim Keller recounts it like this (88, emphasis added):
"Augustine...argues not only that we can grow in prayer in spite of [our] difficulties but because of them. He concludes the letter [to a sorely afflicted widow named Anicia Proba] by asking his friend, 'Now what makes this work [of prayer] specially suitable to widows but their bereaved and desolate condition?' Should a widow not, he asked, 'commit her widowhood, so to speak, to her God as her shield in continual and most fervent prayer?' What a remarkable statement. Her sufferings were her 'shield' -- they defended her from the illusions of self-sufficiency and blindness that harden the heart, and they opened the way for the rich, passionate prayer life that could bring peace in any circumstance."
This is also the clear testimony of the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10): 
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. 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
One more reason to "count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds."

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