The hospital room has glass walls, and I can see out, though I cannot leave just yet. I look at the glowing numbers on the black screen over the bed and think how Little Man and his daddy and I will probably get to go home soon. I am glad and yet less grateful than I should be. Wisdom would address this fact, but I’d rather sweep it under the rug.
The baby next door cries, furious and with the irrepressible wail of a newborn. The curtain means I cannot see into the room, but I think that if I could, the little one’s fragile body would belie her mighty cry. I imagine a tiny figure with flailing arms and legs that signal helplessness rather than strength.
That is the way it is with me. I have heard people say I am strong. If by this they mean that God has been strong for me, they are right. I have needed His strength desperately, and He has never failed to supply it. But as for me, I am weak and flailing like the baby next door.
When it is only me, I am utterly weak, and I’ve known that for a long time now. There is a kind of knowing your own weakness that is instinctive—like a small child who stands for the first time at the edge of the ocean and reaches for daddy’s hand as if to say, “These waves are too big for me.” Too, there is a knowing that comes by experience. It is the memory of frantically reaching for air and for sunlight and for anything steady, ‘cause the wave came unexpectedly and you’re choking on salt and sand.
I have both kinds of knowing now. You see, I have been here before. In a hospital room—yes, many times—but more so in this place called disappointment. Hurt. Just plain tired. My heart is a battleground where faith and doubt wage war. I have been here before, and yet I stand on the shores of a sea of emotion, new and uncharted. Never before have I found it so difficult to reach for my Father’s hand.
I know my God is faithful and that He is good. I know it by His Word, by the testimony of others, and by first-hand experience. Why then, do I hesitate? Why do I throw up walls when tearing them down is what’s needed? Why resist the intimacy my soul craves?
I know well what it is to feel peace more powerful than adversity and love that pours comfort into gaping wounds. I’ve known a grace that more than compensates for my failings and a faith that can weather the storm.
The Author of faith and love is not distant or ambiguous. He’s my Father. The Source of grace and peace is not a stranger. He’s my Friend.
So, why? Why when I’m weak and floundering do I reach for cheap substitutes? Why, since I know that what I need—Who I need—is right there waiting?
I think it’s because I want to escape the adversity and hide the wounds. To ignore my failings and flee the storm. Easy and nice—that’s the goal. What I want, when I want it. Nothing less, nothing more.
I am familiar, all too familiar, with my own fickle heart. So much more aware of my particular brand of frailty than anyone anywhere could be, outside of God Himself. There are times that if I were God, I would count me a lost cause. Uproot the damaged plant to make room for something less droopy and needy. Snuff out the faltering flame and start again.
Praise God that He is God and I am not! Praise God that He does not crush weak stems or put out flickering candles!
“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench, until He brings justice to victory.”—Matthew 12:20
This verse is Isaiah 42:3 repeated in the New Testament. It is an Old Testament prophecy that Jesus fulfilled when He responded with compassion to people who were busted and bruised, exhausted and running out of steam. It did not matter how they came to be broken and worn out—whether the enemy, or hardship, or they themselves were the cause. His response was the same. Tend to the trampled. Light the smoldering ember. The one with smoke and no flame.
“He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth.”—Isaiah 42:4
It is not as if Jesus sees you and I and reaches out to us, as an afterthought, or out of pity. No, He saw our weakest moments long before we ever came wailing into this world, and God prophesied this in advance—that what others call hopeless, Jesus would treat as redeemable. He does not quit before the victory.
“ … Finally He will cause justice to be victorious. And His name will be the hope of all the world.”—Matthew 12:20-21
To the bruised reeds and the smoldering wicks … to the weak ones like me:
If you find yourself hesitating, as I have, go ahead and take the hand that Jesus freely offers. Grab hold of the calloused fingers of the Master Carpenter and recognize that restoration is His joy. Feel the strength of Jesus’ grip, realizing that He will never leave you—no, not for a moment. Allow the scars in His palms to handle your tender places, remembering that you have never suffered alone.
Life is not all pain, flaws, and struggle. There is healing, overcoming, and victory too—though not without Christ the Healer, the victorious One who has overcome the world. His is a “for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” kind of love, and His joy is just as real in the hard times as it is in the good.
You’re timid, and I get it. I am too. But let the child’s song sing over your heart:
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Jesus sees it all and He knows, and He’s still there waiting. Unoffended. Undeterred. Won’t you take His hand?