Strength in Weakness
“God helps those who help themselves.”
75% of Americans agree with this statement.
68% of Evangelical Christians agree with this statement.
(George Barna, 2001)
According to Talbot Seminary 80% of people believe that the statement “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse! (Biola Magazine, Spring 2014).
I have a lot of emotions when I read these statistics – sad being first and foremost. It worries me about the condition of the Church. It makes me angry, too. I’m angry because behind these statistics are people who don’t know who God is. They believe a lie about themselves and God.
It’s one thing to read a statistic like this in a George Barna book; it’s something altogether different to see this statistic lived out in the constant crisis of life around you. Ironically, it is this false belief about God that causes many missed opportunities to learn about God.
Crisis can foster great redemptive purposes. Crisis reveals character. It reveals the character of the one who struggles. Most of all, it reveals the character of the God they follow in their struggles.
Many of us have had the privilege of journeying with someone through their “valley of the shadow of death.” It is revealing for all involved, embarrassingly so. What do we say in those moments about God? Where is He anyway? Why is this all happening now?
To walk with people who are experiencing struggles in life with their understanding of God is sacred. Sacred because something holy happens when my theories about God turn into my stories about God. Struggle always accomplishes this.
If God only helps those who help themselves then what is being revealed in our struggles? What sacred work could possibly be happening?
Walking through struggle, or walking with someone through struggle, will be revealing. It is sacred because it is revealing. But there is more to struggle than a reveal of character. There is an opportunity to change, to rethink, and to renew. Who is God in my crisis? Who is God in my helpless state? When I could not help myself, what does God accomplish for me? Does God only help those who help themselves?
The answer – the hope – we have to give in these revealing moments is what our community desperately needs to know. The Gospel is louder than the struggle.
“…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.” – II Corinthians 12:9
Chris Payne is the Senior Pastor of New Charlotte Church. He is a graduate of Liberty University and received his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell. He is currently working toward his doctorate in Marriage and Family Counseling. He is married to Jen, and they are the proud parents of Jackson, Maryn and Faith and reside in Waxhaw, NC. You can read Chris’s blog at: http://newcharlotte.org/media/chriss-blog.