Hold Fast to Weakness
“When I am weak, then I am strong.”
That’s not the way the world works. My kids are playing baseball these days, and even for 7-year-olds, it’s clear: the most valued players are not the ones who aren’t sure which way to run around the base path; the most valued players are those everyone knows might knock it out of the park at any moment.
But God’s kingdom is different. It’s hard for us to believe this, because we tend to think the hard workers and the talented are the one God is pleased with. But no. God values the weak, the ones who are about to fall apart. His ways are totally different than ours.
This April, we have been praying for Chinese Christians to “hold fast to weakness.” We are praying this because these Christians themselves said they want to “learn to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in the face of our weaknesses, and begin to ‘boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses.’” These believers want to learn to rely on Christ’s strength as they walk through the wilderness. They are following in the footsteps of believers across time and geography. Four hundred years ago, English poet John Donne wrote, “Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.” So, this month I am praying for Chinese believers to remember and believe and even experience that their afflictions are God’s riches being poured out upon them.
Our Weakness Provides Opportunities for God’s Glory
There were many articles this month that helped me better remember the heavenly treasure of affliction and tribulation. Among them was a Chinese pastor who urged his congregation to remember that no earthly home can give them what they are really looking for. He wrote: “Perhaps the Bible is right. Perhaps we really do have nothing to cling to on earth except for our home in heaven. If we believe any country, any land, or any earthly political system is the salvation that will save us from the entanglement and harm of sin, then we are believing a lie.”
This Shanghai pastor was writing to people, among whom were many considering emigration to other countries. He reminded them that emigration is not an issue of sin, but of wisdom, and asked them to think carefully about what they are truly looking for when they consider moving.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
As I tell myself to remember that God’s grace is sufficient in weakness, a series on the history of the modern Chinese house church drove that point home. Li Yingqiang, an elder at Early Rain Covenant Church, clearly showed how God’s grace has always been sufficient, even in times of great weakness, tribulation, and persecution. From the early years of the house church after the Communist Party took power, to the great revival and awakening of China in the 1990s and early 2000s, to more recent difficulties believers have faced under the twin trials of pressure and prosperity: God has always been faithful and gracious to his people in China. He has not forgotten Chinese Christians, and he has used their times of weakness to make it clear that only he could grow and revive and build his church. Human efforts are vain; but God’s ways are proved perfect in weakness. That has always been the case, and I am confident it will continue to prove true today and in the future.
Finally, I am praying God’s grace will be daily sufficiency for those who are fully aware of their present weakness. I thought especially of Christians who are currently suffering for their faith. This couple, who are separated now because of the husband’s imprisonment, have been particularly near the forefront of my mind. God’s grace is sufficient, even in jail, and even for those who cannot see their loved ones.
The Bible is clear that our own human weaknesses only provide opportunity for God’s glory to shine through. I am praying that Chinese believers will have the supernatural strength and grace to rejoice and give thanks in all of their weaknesses. God has not put Chinese Christians in a hard spot or a difficult time because they failed some test. He has them in this season because he wants to use their difficulties to show his own greatness and goodness. We have only to look at the history of the Chinese house church to see this, and we know this will again prove true. God is working in China in ways we cannot expect or predict, but he himself will prove more wonderful and loving than we could ever imagine.
E.F. Gregory is a mom of three. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Chinese Christians to rejoice and give thanks in their weaknesses.