From the recently released Weakness Is the Way by J. I. Packer:
Often linked with the sense of weakness--sometimes as cause, sometimes as effect--is the feeling of failure. The memory of having fallen short in the past can hang like a black cloud over one's present purposes and in effect program one to fail again. Christian faith, prompting solid hope and promising present help, should dispel all such fears and expectations, but does not always do so, and the encouragement that one Christian should give to another who needs it is frequently in short supply.
The truth, however, is that in many respects, and certainly in spiritual matters, we are all weak and inadequate, and we need to face it. Sin, which disrupts all relationships, has disabled us across the board. We need to be aware of our limitations and to let this weakness work in us humility and self-distrust, and a realization of our helplessness on our own.Thus we may learn our need to depend on Christ ... to practice that dependence as one of the constant habits of our hearts ... (15-6)Like so much of Packer's writing, this excerpt is packed full of good stuff. There are, however, a couple things that jumped out at me:
- Weakness and failure are a part of life; since the Fall, we have had these two debilitating companions walking alongside us on life's journey. That's just the way it is.
- Faith should dispel the fears of weakness and failure, even while we understand that they will visit us again.
- Brothers and sisters of faith can help us with this through encouragements and exhortations; but, this happens with less frequency than it ought to.
- Facing our weakness can actually help us. It can help us be humble. It can help us be distrustful of self-sufficiency. And it can teach us to depend on Christ.
What's the take away from this? For me, I want to be a person who encourages others. I am learning to take every opportunity to encourage and exhort those around me. I often think of nice, helpful, upbuilding things to say to friends and family, but I often leave them unsaid. I want to encourage others with the knowledge that Jesus is there for them and they ought to lean on him. I want to inspire and strengthen others with the understanding that they are weak and that their weakness is strength when they trust in Christ. And I want ot remember that myself.