“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.
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.”
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.
“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
- Don’t Jump to Conclusions; Jump to Grace
- Run from First to Second