I’ve never been much of a Springsteen fan. I always found his voice too scratchy, his biggest hits overplayed.
Then I listened to some of his recent work, which led me to read his memoir Born to Run. Springsteen shares honestly about his life, including his struggles with depression. I enjoyed learning more about him.
Near the end, Springsteen writes about his voice. “About my voice. First of all, I don’t have much of one. I have a bar-man’s power, range and durability, but I don’t have a lot of tonal beauty or finesse,” he writes.His limitations forced him to accept what he has, and to learn to be okay with what he doesn’t have. After all, some of the best music has been made by people who faced their limitations. “I learned to excel at those elements of my craft in a way I might otherwise never had if I had a more perfect instrument … Your blessings and your curses often come in the same package.”
Springsteen reminds me of a Scriptural truth. We don’t like our weaknesses, but God uses them. Our weaknesses are the path to experiencing God’s power.
The Strength of Weakness
I face a set of weaknesses myself. My body is getting older. I’m not as skilled or talented as I’d like to be. I’m often tempted by the same old sins. I’ve experienced times of intense difficulty in my life. None of these are good, but God has used each of them to teach me something I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul writes, “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
At first, Paul reacted the same way that the rest of us would. He hated his weaknesses and begged God to remove them.
Eventually, God helped Paul understand that his weaknesses are where God gives his grace and power. God is somehow able to take the weakest things and use it as the platform for power. That’s exactly what God did through the death of Jesus, and it’s what he does in our lives too.
We try to avoid it, but God works through weakness.
Imagine if God’s greatest gift in your life is the very thing that you want him to take away. According to Scripture, the weaknesses we hate the most in ourselves may end up becoming the source of extra strength and grace in our lives because they teach us to rely on God.
Near the end of his life, professor and writer David Powlison gave a speech. “We are fundamentally weak,” he explained. “That weakness is a most unusual door into all the ways God enables us to be strong …The right kind of strength comes from the right kind of weakness.”
He then expressed a desire that I still find surprising. “My deepest hope for you is that in both your personal life and your ministry to others, you would be unafraid to be publicly weak as the doorway to the strength of God Himself.”
Don’t be afraid to be weak, because our weakness can lead us to the kind of strength we’d otherwise miss.
Feeling weak? Join the club. Springsteen can relate, and so can the Apostle Paul. But blessing often comes disguised as weakness. We can’t avoid our weaknesses, but we can ask God to make them the place where we experience His strength and grace.