“I hope as much from the justice of God as from his mercy. It is because He is just that He is compassionate and full of tenderness… for He knows our weakness. He remembers that we are dust. As a father has tenderness for his children, so the Lord has compassion for us. What a joy to think that God is just, that He takes into account of our weakness, that he knows perfectly the fragility of our nature.” – Therese of Lisieux
There are days we find ourselves down. There are times when we come face to face with our limitations. When we throw our hands up in the air and cry out for help. Circumstances go beyond our action, injustice covers the incidents we face, and darkness looms in the distance, stoking the fires of insecurity and anxiety; we find a myriad of experiences in our lives that show how truly weak we are in a world consumed by power and distorted by sin. Our human condition limits our ability to exert our will against the events which are out of control in our every day lives. Our consciences finds conflict in a world overwhelmed with greed, yet we are encouraged to selfishly preserve ourselves. We feel isolation in the circumstances of our limitations, yet we are recommended to look inward to unlock the secret to the successes we seek. When the fittest must survive, we focus on our natural “instinct” to manage the situation, get by at all costs or handle it on our own; yet in this experience we surrender our ability to trust others as we go forward. When we focus on world level conditions like poverty, slavery, racism, or the economy we seem to be able to throw our hands up and resign our ability more easily that when it hits us in the middle of the chest. But what happens when it hits home? How do we respond when we can no longer produce the results for our own survival? What happens when we come face to face with our weakness which doesn’t allow us to do it on our own? Who do we turn to? Fortunately for us, our God is the God of details. When we are left with nothing but to throw up our hands and leave the details to the God of the Ages, He shows us that his compassion and tenderness brings his power to cover our weakness and provide for us.
There are things we know about ourselves which we bury from others, even ourselves at times, out of the idea of our preservation. This is based in the fear that if others know how worthless we really are, they would leave us alone in our weakness to be ostracized from community. This is the essence of what we hope no one ever sees in us: Weakness. We carry the fear that we, as people, are unable to provide, protect and preserve ourselves. We hold the anxiety that what we have is not enough, that we are unable to exert ourselves above the rest. We know the fright of our lack of ability to solve every detail and circumstance of our lives. The truth of this is that our fears are spot on. We are helpless and limited in our power on this earth. We are finite and mortal. We are fallible and fault-filled. We are weak and in need of provision. And yet, we are benevolently cared for by a Sovereign Lord; the God who loves us, whose power is made perfect in our weakness. He doesn’t love us in spite of our lack of ability, our failure and foibles; He loves us inclusive of them. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul asserts that his weakness is a place to identify with Christ’s power resting on him. The tenderness of the Father is poured out on his children. When they are weak, He is strong. Face to face with the limitations of our circumstances, we have an Almighty Father who is tender to us; who understands the creation of his hand, who He loves and sent his Son to die for.
With our hands in the air, as a child calling to be picked up by their father, we relinquish our dependence on our own ability to manage chaotic situations. Our skills and talents, our wisdom and experience, and our resources and influence all come to naught in humble submission to God’s plans for us. His power is made perfect, not in the exertion of our power, but in the illumination of Himself in light of our weak, fallen, and deprived constitution. He is the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Father. He knows what will come our ways before we are even aware of the possibility. This is the God who cares for the falling sparrow, who numbers the hairs on our heads and who confesses our value to the Father in Heaven in his compassion on behalf of his beloved. Like the calling child, we reach to the Father amidst our need. We find Him providing for us in ways we may never see or understand. The immutable Almighty, who acts on our behalf, is the only provider that is worthy of glory and praise. He is not surprised by the details of our days. He is the Lord of the details of the universe. He loves us and is not caught off guard by the circumstances we face. He knows perfectly and thoroughly every fragile situation and essential need of his children. The Lord is compassionate. He is faithful. He is calling us to bring ourselves in our weakness to Him, that his power might be abundant in us; that we, like Paul, may rest in his provision. To live in communion with his tenderness toward our lives is to humbly acknowledge the limits of our actions of justification, sustenance and comprehension, and embrace Him as the benefactor of every avenue of provision in our lives. When we acknowledge Him in this place, we come to grips with the reality of life as the creation who lives to glorify the merciful creator. We take the focus off ourselves and put it rightly back on Him who considers us more valuable that the falling sparrow.
The Lord of compassion and tenderness longs for us to find Him as such. When we come to understand ourselves in light of who He is, and who He is as our only hope for sustenance, we come to know the peace of the compassionate and tender provision in our lives amidst our weakness. God understands us as we are, not as we should be or as we were; as we are today, face to face with the God of the universe, acknowledging our need for His interaction and salvation. In our limitations, he is limitless in his compassion. In our circumstances he is merciful and understanding in accordance to his will and our preservation. In our weakness, his power is perfect. Let us rely on Him with our hands in the air, waiting for Him to cradle us in our need, knowing that he will care for his children whom He loves. He in his perfect timing acts to provide for us in ways which no eye has seen, and no mind has conceived. The love of the Father is abundant and satisfying. Let us trust in his provision, and know that his through our faith in his promises, we are sustained. Luke puts forth the assurance of those who trust in Him: Through heartfelt mercies of our God, the sunrise of his provision will break upon us, shining on those in darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, illuminating the way to guide our steps down the path of peace. As we interact with the limitations and weaknesses in our own lives, we must come face to face with the Living God who is waiting to pick us up, as children, and cradle us in his arms of provision. Wherever we find ourselves today, we must know that his power is made perfect in weakness, and rely on Him to provide for us in our hour of need.