Adapted from EQ discussion 1/4/15:
Like any father, our Heavenly Father loves to give his children gifts. He gives us these gifts because he loves us. The majority of the time we don’t deserve them, but they keep coming. He also doesn’t make mistakes in giving us specific gifts. The gift of the Holy Ghost, spiritual gifts, life, a plan of happiness, etc… One particular gift that He gives is seldom thought of, but can bring great joy, if used correctly.
If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.1
So what is the gift? Weakness.
Everyone has weaknesses – and its ok. It is not a mistake or a punishment that we have weakness. Upon encountering a blind man, a disciple of Christ asks who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be make manifest in him.2 This man later, through Jesus, the priesthood, faith, and obedience, receives his sight. He bears strong testimony of the Son of God.
This man was born with a physical weakness. I am sure that he, at times, had an incredibly difficult life filled with misery and anguish that I can’t imagine. When we meet him he lived in the streets begging for food. He could not have possibly known that there was a purpose for his struggles and suffering. But, through Christ, we do. How often do we know why we are given the weaknesses, whether physical, intellectual, spiritual, or emotional?
The scriptures are riddled with examples of ‘weak’ individuals becoming strong – even spiritual giants. David described himself by saying I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed.3 Funny enough, this is after killing Goliath. Talk about humility. Moses was not eloquent, slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. He was so hesitant, that the anger of the Lord was kindled against him.4 Enoch was but a lad, slow of speech5 when he was called. Mormon was in his sixteenth year6 when he was appointed leader of the Nephite army. Joseph Smith was an obscure boy, only between 14 and 15 years of age7 when he entered the Sacred Grove. Moroni feared that the gentiles would mock at these things because of our weakness in writing and awkwardness of our hands when comparing his writing to the brother of Jared’s. 8
These people were able to become strong out of weakness. We have been promised that we can do the same. How? Moroni teaches that if they humble themselves before [God], and have faith1 we can do so. We must become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, and full of love.9
Undertaking this transformation can be overwhelming. Is there a more simple or succinct answer? Yes. When Mary anointed Jesus’ head with expensive oil, Judas murmured, thinking that she should have sold the oil and given it to the poor, but Christ, the Master says, Let her alone, why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me … She hath done what she could.10
How awesome is that! She hath done what she could. We just need to do our best. We, with our weakness, our imperfections, our guilt, our pride, our sorrow, our addiction, our sin, just need to be humble, admit that we have weakness, turn to Christ, repent, follow in faith and do our best.
At times we may be instruments in helping others overcome weakness. In turn, others often help us overcome our own. I can name several that have helped me personally in just the last few months, most unknowingly. Tests and trials that we have overcome give us the valuable opportunity to assist others in a way that many who have not struggled in a similar way cannot. Knowing someone else has overcome a similar trial or weakness gives strength and confidence to continue forward in hope for a more bright future. In helping or serving others we become more like Christ. We are able, as He is, to support, to comfort, to succor.
“Through an ever-closer kinship with God, a person’s worst flaws and failings may eventually be transformed into shining strengths. What consolation! When we acknowledge our weakness to the Lord and receive His aid, a precious side-effect follows — fervent compassion for others and a new concern to love and lift”.11 We do not judge as a natural man9, but have charity toward our struggling neighbors. We realize that we are all beggars12 in the same boat, depending on and looking to the same source for light and life. Let us help each other instead of putting others down because their weaknesses are different than our own.
So, our weakness can always become strength? Not necessarily. Paul taught another important lesson concerning weakness.
Paul had a weakness that he called a thorn in the flesh that kept him humble. He asked the Lord three times to remove this weakness. All three times the Master Teacher answered ‘No’, explaining my grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul, because he is awesome, got it. He wrote, I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.13
Boom. Paul just dropped the mic.
There must be opposition in all things.14 God did not accidently give us weakness nor accidently give us a trial that we cannot overcome. We need to learn to work, to struggle, to be meek and mild, to rely on others. We need to understand forgiveness and rely upon the mercy and atonement of our Savior to find happiness, to succeed.
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.15
Now, I don’t mean to glorify weakness. Truly, we should constantly work to overcome and convert our weaknesses into strengths and keep them that way. We can, however, glory in the knowledge that we are not alone in this fight. There is a way, a truth, and a life.16 Like Paul, the power of Christ will rest upon us when we are humble. That, we can glory in.
1 Ether 12:27
2 John 9:1-3
3 1 Samuel 18:23
4 Exodus 4:10-14
5 Moses 6:31
6 Mormon 3:2
7 Joseph Smith – History 1:22
8 Ether 12:23-24
9 Mosiah 3:19
10 Mark 14:6,8
11 Truman G Madsen, I Have A Question
12 Mosiah 4:19-20
13 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
14 Tyson Alexander, Opposition. See also 2 Nephi 2:11
15 1 Corinthians 1:27
16 John 14:6