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When We Don’t Have to Be Strong

By David Neuen

This week I went with my son Addison to the doctor’s office to be by his side as he was having a blood draw.  As he was called back to the laboratory for the procedure, he sat down confidently and started to roll up his sleeves.  “Which arm do you need?” he asked the nurse.  She was taken aback and remarked how confident and strong he was.  Addison quickly corrected her.  “No, I’m actually quite nervous about this.  I can’t remember having blood drawn before.”  I could tell he was anxious.  With a tiny pinch, the needle went in, and Addison gritted his teeth with the realization of the pain and pressure.  The nurse and I tried to engage him in casual conversation but he was not in the mood for talking.  But after only a minute or so of blood entering vials for the required tests, the procedure was over. 

What happened next was beautiful.  Addison stuck out his hand to the nurse.  She tapped it with her gloved hand giving a meager high five.  Then she realized the generosity in his gesture.  “Did you want to shake my hand?” she asked.  “Yes,” Addison said.  “It didn’t hurt as much as I thought.”  The nurse ungloved her hands and shook Addison’s outstretched palm telling him, “You must be the most polite patient I’ve had all day.”  And he responded honestly with words flowing naturally from his heart, “Well, you are a really good nurse.  Thanks!”  With that she led us to the exit, beaming all the way, excited to tell her coworkers what just happened.

I marvel at the kind heart of that boy.  I witness the gospel in him.  Where many of us would falsely act strong and self-sufficient, Addison invited me to sit by his side for this test.  He was not afraid to say that he did not want to be alone.  He had the humility to tell the nurse he was afraid.  He did not avoid fear.  And whether he knew it or not, God worked through his weakness.   God moved Addison to kindness precisely through his pain. 

I am reminded of the Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth referencing God’s answer to his prayer in a time of struggle.  “But God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  I relate to Paul who was praying that God would remove hardship and weakness from his life.  We don’t want others to see us wrestling or failing to succeed.  We do not want to acknowledge failure and adversity.  We cannot understand why God, who is loving and just, does not eradicate the problem from our life.  But God, in infinite wisdom, is present in our lives working through our weakness with extravagant grace.  In fact, it is often because of pain and struggling that we acknowledge God’s grace when we have otherwise been blind to it.  In weakness we become dependent upon God , and we discover the rich blessings that result when we trust the Lord’s strength and not our own. 

Have you been tempted to hide your weaknesses?  Are you like me, praying that God will quickly wipe them away?  What are some of the ways you have witnessed God at work in and through your weaknesses?    It is amazing what God can accomplish through us as we are dependent upon Him.

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