Feeling useless is liberating when we can accept all we can do is watch and wait.
The theology of Paul teaches us that at the end of our own power comes the beginning of God’s power. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) So, as a matter of fact, when we are at the end of ourselves, we are never closer to the transcendent power that really could make a difference in our lives.
An expression of coming to the end of our own power is being brought to the state of feeling useless. We can imagine God having orchestrated the circumstances of our lives in order to bring us to the precipice of our lack of control. This is not because God is vindictive. It is the nature of life that God is God and we are not. It is a blessing, always, to be reminded of the eternal order of things.
Being able to do only one productive thing makes things simple. When all we might do is watch and wait, and that is the case in many circumstances of life, the choices for action and inaction come to be straightforward. All we need to do is do what we need to do.
The Shalom of God
This reminds me of the Shalom of God – that smiling face of God favouring us with his empowering simplicity. Even when we feel at the end of our own power, God compensates by empowering us in the simplicity of his purpose.
As we consider God turning his face toward us – even as we traverse hell – knowing his favour abides as we abide in him – that smiling Shalom of God transcends the difficulty, making the reality surreal.
As we turn in the consideration of God turning his face toward us, we see the liberty he is giving us in circumstances otherwise totally de-liberating. Of course, the world cannot understand this spiritual reality; the gifting of God that we call faith. It seems absurd to the worldly and it is absurd in the world’s thinking. But we can know a different reality; to smile through a hardship; to accept what we cannot change; to deny nothing of the truth; to be alive in the midst of reality.
When things are against us, God is still for us, and even more so. There can be freedom within powerlessness, patience during testing, and courage that meets and befriends great fear.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
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