Poor in Spirit, Rich in Grace

Weakness is a holy invitation to allow grace to do its work.
– Alia Joy

Poor in Spirit

My eye was hurting. This was day three. If something was wrong, I needed to fix it. Today. Before I went out of town again.

A quick call to my eye doctor proved successful. Come in now.

I changed out of my shorts and t-shirt and put on my good jeans and a blouse.

I’ve learned to dress a little nicer when I go to the doctor. Or anywhere that I’ll need something from someone else.

Because I want to be treated nicer.

And like it or not, that’s often the way our world works. People see the outside first, the spirit second.

Being poor in spirit might have been something Jesus valued. But do we?

At least not at first. And not until we take a deeper look.

Glorious Weakness

Alia Joy takes a deeper look. I understand when she says this in her new book Glorious Weakness:

“When I have errands like returning something to a store, or asking for a discount, or knowing I will be dealing with someone and their perceptions of me, I dress up. Over time, I have learned it’s easier to get help if you look like you don’t really need it.”

We all need help. Some of us are just more aware of it than others. And we need more help at some times more than at other times.

But our need for help isn’t supposed to indicate failure. In fact, Alia reminds us that,

Being poor in spirit is the richest place of all. That’s where the treasure is buried.”

Admit how weak you are_Glorious Weakness

Grace Through the Ordinary

I don’t know exactly what Jesus meant by “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). But at my weakest, I feel a certain poverty of spirit.

Where is the treasure in this? How can our lack lead to God’s abundance?

Sometimes the holiest ground is the emptiest.

When we realize our need for grace, we’re most open to receiving it.

And sometimes our greatest need for grace comes not just in big, broken moments, but in the moments of ordinary life.

Alia says,

“Ordinary life has been the hardest calling I’ve ever answered, the hardest thing to bear witness to, because who could possibly care about the mundane and ordinary life?

“I had no idea the depths of my own selfishness until asked to share myself with my family. To lay my will down day after day and seek God’s.”

In these ordinary moments, God’s goodness may be on full display.

“Maybe this is the beginning. Letting ourselves be hungry in the most natural ways. Letting ourselves be fed. And when it’s time, letting ourselves be poured out again and again in serving each other.

“Maybe this ordinary life isn’t a secondhand one, a consolation prize. Maybe our ordinary is not just good enough. Maybe it’s good.”

When I Am Weak…

My visit to the doctor’s office was quick. Dr. Small quickly diagnosed the problem, told me what to do, and I was on my way.

The clothes I wore probably hadn’t mattered at all. The doctor likely would have treated me kindly either way. Because that’s how she is. A kind person.

Same with God. God isn’t good to us because we are worthy of his goodness. He is good to us because that’s who he is. Good.

“So often when we are hurting in church, we put our masks on and pretend everything is fine because we think our testimony is supposed to be our faithfulness.

But our testimony is only ever how God is faithful to us, not the other way around.”

Perhaps this line from Glorious Weakness sums it up best:

“My deficiency was the strongest thing about me because God was fully present in my lack.”

Weakness isn’t the goal. But when we are weak (and we always are weak somewhere), maybe it really can work in our favor.

And maybe the apostle Paul had it right when he quoted Jesus as saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

For when we are weak, then we are strong.

* * *

There are so many great lines and insights in Glorious Weakness. Read it if you get a chance. Alia is brutally honest, weak, and delightful. “God was never interested in my strength; he’s most pleased with my surrender.”

My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of this book

15 thoughts on “Poor in Spirit, Rich in Grace

  1. Yvonne Chase

    We live in such a foppish world. So glad God cares more about my heart than how I look. Help us, Lord to get to that place with each other.

    Favorite line from this post: “God isn’t good to us because we are worthy of his goodness. He is good to us because that’s who he is. Good.” Amen! God is good…period!

    Glorious Weakness sounds like a book loaded with wisdom and great lines of truth we tend to forget. Thanks for making me aware of it.

    1. Lynn D. Morrissey

      Wonderful points. Yvonne. And gotta tell you: I love words, and I have never took time to look up fop or foppish. Thank you for your post which caused me to do that! 🙂 Moreover, thank you for your deep thinking.

  2. Linda Stoll

    I’ve just started Alia’s book recently. Got sidetracked with an easier read. And now I’m headed back to pick up where I left off. She’s got important words that need to be savored, even if they’re not all that easy to sit with.

    Bless her. Bless you, friend …

  3. Martha J Orlando

    This book sounds like a winner, Lisa! In our weakness, God can, and will, make us strong, precisely because He loves us and wants what’s best for us. I’m a strong believer, too, in celebrating His presence in the ordinary times of our lives.

  4. Laurie

    This book sounds wonderful. Thank you for your review, Lisa. I loved this line:
    “Sometimes the holiest ground is the emptiest.” I have found that to be so true. It is also true that we often base our initial perceptions of others on their outer appearance. I am guilty of this. Another thing I need to work on. God, however, sees the beauty hidden inside.

  5. Lynn D. Morrissey

    It’s an important reminder, Lisa. And thanks for reminding me of Alia’s book, which I hope to read (I have so many books)! I think, in addition to admitting weakness, I am admitting to God my sinfulness (well, perhaps that is the greatest weakness of all). In so doing, I am finally realizing that one reason I need to do this (beyond all the obvious reasons), is so that God can greater lavish me with grace. I’m reminded of this verse in relation to Alia’s book, “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Cor. 12:9).” though I must never boast about my sin, I realize that as I admit it, I can boast in God’s grace, love, and forgiveness all the more.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Debra Jean

    I will have to get this book! My blog is based on 2 Cor 12:9 My favorite part of this verse is the 2nd part which is often left off, “most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” The idea of Christ’s power resting with me is worth being weak and submitting all to Him. Great post! Many Thanks! 8)

  7. Michele Morin

    I appreciated Alia’s book, and I knew I would because whenever I’ve bumped into her writing elsewhere, she is brutally honest and invites grace into the room.
    When I was working my way through the sermon on the mount, I enjoyed meditating on the phrase “poor in spirit,” because it’s so counter cultural–and it goes against everything I try to project by nature!

  8. Patsy Burnette

    Love this book, Lisa! Thanks for the great review and reminders too. I especially like, “When we realize our need for grace, we’re most open to receiving it.” It’s so true!

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  9. Jennifer Smith

    We are all, indeed, spiritually poor – bankrupt even! – before Christ. And as “mature” Christians, we think we can dress it up and appear at least a little better than reality. So grateful He knows us and accepts us just as we are. That’s amazing grace!:)

  10. floyd

    I don’t believe there is peace to be found until we come to the end of ourselves.

    We know for sure that being weak in spirit only happens in humility…

    Notice how that word just keeps rolling back to us year after year?!

  11. Mary Geisen

    Thank you for the review of Alia’s book. I have read several other reviews and know that this book is a must read. There is such a pull for me to better understand my weakness and the part God plays in it all.

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