Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if God gave me everything I asked for. Would I turn out like Bruce Nolan in Bruce Almighty, or maybe like the character of Kevin Lomax in The Devil’s Advocate? I fear that we have all developed our theology from those movies. Today, thankfully, we get to put Hollywood behind us and look to the Bible. Through the life of Paul, we see what real character and integrity look like in the face of adversity.
Unlike Paul, we continually misdiagnose our failures and shortcomings. These often result in empty and hollow feelings, despite our best efforts. When they persist, we turn to God. We pray for success. Sometimes, we demand success. We want more money. Better relationships, influence prestige, and power; “God’s blessing.” These, however, are the trappings of worldly success. They are not what God wants for, or from us. I like the way that Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel illustrate this in their book Beloved Dust. They explain that “we want to believe we can fix our own lives and we want to believe that learning the right technique will save us. At the heart of idolatries such as these is the desire to have a different god from the God who has given himself to us in Christ Jesus. It is taking the deep and evil desires of our heart to make ourselves the center of existence, and generating an idea of a god we can serve – a god who will be impressed with us, a god who is on our side, and, maybe most importantly, a god we can control.”
Paul takes the opposite of my position. His is worship. Incredibly, this is Paul’s only response to his circumstances. In fact, he boasts about it. Now, I might boast about my weakness in order to gain sympathy or even help from someone else. Not Paul. He boasts not for any gain of his own, but only so that the name of God can be known to exclaim God’s revelation that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
It is time for me to get on with the business of worship for all things in my life. This life of worship begins with the understanding that my weaknesses, my failures, my shortcomings, adversities, and brokenness that God is looking for. In fact, all of these have been overcome through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of His strength, I can do all things. (Philippians 4:3)