Having said that, there are lessons to be learned in this valley.]
“But [the Lord] 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.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
“Just A Closer Walk With Thee” is one of the great hymns of faith, combining a wonderful tune with life-empowering biblical truth.
Under normal circumstances, I would focus on my favorite topic – the refrain’s invitation that we live out our faith daily in an ever-more-intimate relationship with the Lord. But we are not living in normal circumstances. This is Easter weekend, and we are living under the cloud of COVID-19. My focus today is on the opening verse: “I am weak, but Thou are strong”.
Mankind is weak. This pandemic is a revelation of the fragility of man and our institutions and plans. A new variant of an already familiar coronavirus has temporarily overwhelmed the abilities of our 21st Century medical and scientific organizations. Millions of people have or will be infected. It is tragically probable that hundreds of thousands will die. Economies worldwide have come to a standstill, and all our nation’s job and stock market growth over the last three years disappeared in a matter of days.
Now is the time to recognize there are other new diseases with higher infection and mortality rates than COVID-19 that can plague us in the future. Our neighbors in Nashville were recently struck by a powerful tornado, reminding us there are also devastating natural disasters that can occur anywhere at any time and turn our lives upside down: tornado outbreaks, solar flares. hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunami’s greater than anything we have experienced before.
Isaiah describes us as grass in the field. (Isaiah 40:6-8) James calls us a mist that appears for a short time and disappears. (James 4:13-15) On an individual basis, we never know when cancer might show up in a loved one, or when a red-light-running SUV might broadside our family sedan. Jesus spoke of the rich man who planned to solve all his problems by building bigger barns to hold his harvests, only to die before he could enjoy the first bite. (Luke 12:16-31)
Just as blades of grass remain frail when they become a lawn, so too mankind remains weak as a nation or group of nations. Scripture declares it and human history confirms it. (Genesis 3:17-19; Psalm 2; Job 40-41; 1 Corinthians 1:25-31; Hebrews 12:26-29) No empire of man has stood the test of time, and none ever will. Apart from God, we can do nothing of value. (John 15:5)
This leads to the second part of our verse: God is strong.
Frankly, my friends, everyone who believes in a god believes God is strong. The real issue is whether we can tap into His strength and be helped in the ways we need. And the irony captured in our hymn is that to experience the second part of our verse, we must first learn the first part of the verse. To fully access the power of God, we must first fully embrace the reality that we are weak!
No one states this more plainly than Paul in 2 Corinthians 12. No one demonstrated it more gloriously than Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself to the ultimate state of human weakness in the crucifixion and was then raised up by the power of God to the most exalted place in heaven and earth. (Philippians 2:1-11)
The secularists of America and the world put all their trust in human ability: science, technology, money and “princes”. (Psalm 118:5-9). Excepting the issue of life after death and situations where there is nowhere else to turn, many who profess Christian faith do likewise. (2 Timothy 3:1-9) This is ill-placed trust that leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14)
On the other hand, those who know they are powerless receive the Kingdom. (Luke 6:20; Matthew 18:3) Those who humble themselves before the Lord are lifted up. (James 4:4-10) The surpassing power of God, able to do more that we can ask or imagine, is for those who know they are jars of clay. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7; Ephesians 3:20-21)
Christ is Risen! God bless us all.