Strength in Weakness

Isaiah 11; Genesis 32; 2 Corinthians 12.

1916 27 It is well when Christians in conscious weakness (for indeed, we are as water spilt upon the ground which cannot be gathered up again) "wait upon the Lord," for "in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength;" and we are told "he that waiteth upon his Master shall be honoured." At the time Isaiah spoke, all was weakness and confusion in Israel; but although their condition was so sad in the Lord's sight, yet in the riches of God's grace the prophet was given to utter by the Holy Spirit these memorable and reassuring words, "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." Thus He recalled them to the inexhaustible source of strength to be found alone in Himself. Their youths and young men, in whom strength and vitality would naturally be looked for, had utterly failed, and everything was in a state of complete prostration. Then came the blessed and definite promise (surely not less for us than for Israel) "they that wait upon Jehovah shall renew, or change their strength. They shall mount up as with the wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Faintness and weariness are thus overcome, and power given to run in His service, and strength imparted to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, to all those who wait upon the Lord.

In that remarkable scene recorded in Genesis 32 Jacob had to prove by painful experience, as we have, that natural strength availed him nothing, yea, was a positive hindrance to the blessing a divinely sent one desired to confer upon him. Instead of "wrestling Jacob," as so often he is called, it was quite the contrary up to the moment that the hollow of his thigh was touched. "And there wrestled a man with him, and when he (the man) saw that he prevailed not against him (Jacob), he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him": and it was only when Jacob's flesh had been touched and become shrunk that he could say, "I will not let thee go unless thou bless me" and the result of Jacob wrestling in weakness was a full blessing in power, for the answer came, "Thou shalt be no more called Jacob, for thou hast power with God, and hast prevailed, and he blessed him there." And the Spirit desires our attention to another fact that this struggle had made a difference to Jacob's "walk." May the Lord be pleased to grant in these last days unto His beloved people a like result flowing from our intercourse with and waiting upon Him!

In 2 Corinthians 12 we have a very notable example of a believer's weakness and the Lord's mighty power. Paul, the precious and honoured servant of the Lord Jesus, lest he should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations to him, was given a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet him. This drove him to the Lord. He waited upon Him about it, and he prayed earnestly. He besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him. The answer came from Him glorified on high, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." The apostle, in his weakness and powerlessness, had obtained the blessing and victory in waiting upon the Lord. With this blessed assurance from his risen Master and Lord, he no longer asks for the removal of that which made him weak, but his language then was "most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me for when I am weak, then am I strong."

Our adorable Saviour and Holy Lord, in the days of His flesh, in grace knew what it was to be here as the humble and dependent Man, and as such waited upon His Father in prayer; and in that scene of Gethsemane's garden we, with chastened hearts, hear Him praying more earnestly, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done"; and then when He had so prayed, we read, "And there appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him."

May we each and all desire to be in that condition of realized weakness and dependence before the Lord that He may be pleased to let His strength rest upon us, and thus know more intimately and experimentally what it is to "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," and to "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." H.C.M.