The Beatitudes of Jesus are meant to shock us in the ways they so consistently counter our instincts and interrupt our inclinations. They commend the meek rather than the assertive; they commend the poor in spirit rather than the self-sufficient; they commend the reproached rather than the praised. The Beatitudes highlight some of the counter-cultural, Spirit-given qualities that God so values in his people.
If Jesus were to add just one more beatitude, perhaps it would be this: Blessed are the weak, for they shall have God’s strength. Though the exact words are not found in Scripture, they communicate a biblical emphasis: those who are weak specially experience the strength of God. For as the Lord said to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And as Paul declared, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. … For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
“When I am weak, then I am strong.” This is a truth we often see illustrated in common life. A little brother is exhausted at the end of the race, so his big brother lends him his strength—he takes hold of him and carries him to the finish line. A father completes marathons and triathlons with his disabled son, carrying him, pushing him, pulling him, for the young man says that when he competes he doesn’t feel his disability. A group of friends help their wheelchair-bound classmate make a basket, cheering and celebrating his accomplishment.
The heart of a brother, the heart of father, the heart of a friend goes out to those who are afflicted, those who are pitiable, those who have no strength of their own. In this way their weakness is their strength, for it draws the assistance of others. Their weakness is the very quality that makes them strong, for it compels others to rally to their cause, to lend them their abilities, their power, their vigor, their help. Weakness is the secret of their strength.
And just so, God rallies to the cause of those who are weak. Though Paul had prayed that God would remove his “thorn,” he was content to live with it for he knew it made him an object of God’s pity and, therefore, God’s strength. His weakness made him stronger, for because of his weakness God put his arm around his shoulder, God pushed, pulled, and carried him to the finish line, God helped him accomplish what he could not accomplish on his own. Paul’s lack of self-sufficiency was the very reason God exercised such great strength on his behalf.
It is embedded deep within our depraved nature to regard weakness as misfortune, feebleness as failure, lack of physical strength as lack of divine favor. But nothing could be further from the truth, for weakness draws the eye of God, the heart of God, the strength of God. Therefore, with confident expectation do we receive our illnesses, submit in our sorrows, bow to God in our suffering. Rightly do we say, “Blessed are the weak, for they shall have God’s strength!” If there is any secret to our strength, it lies in our weakness.
Inspired by A Life of Character by J.R. Miller