A Theology of Weakness

“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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2Corinthians 12:9).

While I was in seminary, our professor asked for prayer at the start of class one day; then he broke down in tears as the prayers began. We were suddenly aware that it was not the student alone who suffered the strains of life at seminary; our teachers also struggled with life outside the classroom. There was always a spiritual reality behind the academics we pursued, and more to learn than books could teach.

What we studied about God gave us a foundation for life that would not leave us blowing in the wind of public opinion. The world may preach self-preservation and independence, but Christian theology teaches self-sacrifice and God dependence. We are to carry each other’s burdens; which means we must know each other’s burdens.

We studied to know these things better that we might obey more quickly and speak more boldly of Him. This is the academic world, but it is a theology of life and a theology for life.

So we prayed for our prof with our deeply held theology of empathy and understanding.

If fear causes us to hide our pain, if we are not truly vulnerable, we may be praised for our stoic stubbornness. We may be admired for this perceived strength and we will have our reward (Matthew 6:5). According to scripture, however, it is when we are weak that He makes us strong. His strength is made perfect in our weakness; it is proven by what we accomplish despite our weakness.

We praise God when we who are weak demonstrate strength more than when we who are strong show our strength. Remember our victories come “not by might nor by power, but by [His] Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

The fact that we can endure great suffering in silence is to our glory.

The fact that we can praise Him through our tears is to His glory.

Our eyes opened from the prayer and only a few were dry. We waited as our prof regained his composure, then the class resumed. He taught many other things that day, but we remember most his willingness to be vulnerable in front of us. Our prof shared more than knowledge and we learned more than words, a theology of weakness without a weakness of theology.

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