Length: 118 pp
Author: J.I. Packer
Times of obvious weakness form a sort of bookends to our life. We are born weak, we die weak, this is clear. Unfortunately we think we are mythical demigods during the time in-between. We want to be strong, like Adam, in ourselves. We deny the curse, or worse yet, think we can outlive death drawing on our own resources. Dead branches, though we believe we can bear fruit, we believe we are strong.
J.I. Packer profoundly known these bookends. He was hit by a truck at a young age, and he is now 87 years old. More importantly, he knows that his state of weakness has never changed. Learn from this sage. You are weak. Lean into Christ in utter dependence, and know that then, and only then, are you strong.
[T]he way of true spiritual strength, leading to real fruitfulness and Christian life and service, is the humble, self-distrustful way of consciously recognized weakness in spiritual things.
Paul models the discipleship, spiritual maturity, and growth in grace that all believers are called to pursue. When the world tells us, as it does, that everyone has a right to a life that is easy, comfortable, and relatively pain-free, a life that enables us to discover, display, and deploy all the strengths that are latent within us, the world twists the truth right out of shape. That was not the quality of life to which Christ’s calling led him, nor was it Paul’s calling, nor is it what we are called to in the twenty-first century. For all Christians, the likelihood is rather that as our discipleship continues, God will make us increasingly weakness-conscious and pain-aware, so that we may learn with Paul that when we are conscious of being weak, then – and only then – may we become truly strong in the Lord. And should we want it any other way?