Weaknesses / Should we embrace them?
The first answer to this query is without weaknesses we would become susceptible to loosing our faith and maybe our souls. One would ask why? Pride!
St. Paul’s complaint about a thorn in his flesh should be the most profound statement throughout his letters. “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me.” But Jesus said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul continued, “I will rather boast more gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses.” (2 Cor. 12: 7a - 9a).
Do we know what Paul’s weaknesses were? There may be some conjecture on this but no one has been able to pin-point them. However, the very fact that we have the opportunity, from the very mouth of Paul, to hear about his dilemma it should garner our hope as we reflect on ours.
During one of my prayer sessions, the thought of failure interfering with what should be an offering to God was answered with “I also accept your weaknesses as prayers and expect them to be given freely to me.” Words of solace as the guilt was removed from my psyche. When the grace of Christ becomes sufficient it is a means that God uses any evil within us to drive us to him. A quote from Augustine: “This need of devotion we owe to the Lord; that if God does not remove our troubles, we are not to think he has deserted us but rather, by lovingly bearing evil, we are to hope for greater good.”
Like incense rising to God the very weaknesses that may belong to any of us rise as well in prayer which fall at the feet of the Crucified Christ and allow his Precious Blood to cover all the needs these very weaknesses call for. If we do not have weaknesses and think they are only for those who have little faith, our perception of God and his mercy needs some catechesis. We should praise the Lord when weaknesses confront us and embrace the opportunity that humble us and remove pride from within us.
From St. John Chrysostom; “There is consolation in affliction and grace in consolation.” From St. Basil the Great; “Do you see where affliction leads you? To hope that does not disappoint you.”
Each time any of us tries to avoid the pit-falls of weakness familiar to our own failures remember the words of Jesus “My grace is sufficient”!
Now, when offering prayers, writings, or some type of suffering to God, my weaknesses may be included among those given for poor souls in need for expiation.
Ralph B. Hathaway, May 2020