I’m finding that God uses the very thing in our lives that makes us feel weak to help us recognize His power to accomplish things and not our own means.
The same thing you see as a weakness to you is actually the very thing God will use to make you strong for His kingdom as He teaches you how to harness that weakness, seek God within the struggle and let God manifest His strength in you.
In Greek Mythology we learn about the warrior Achilles, who is famed for his vulnerable heel. A strong, fearless warrior possessing superhuman strength and yet a rather odd weakness. Legend has it in Homer’s Iliad that if Achilles was struck in his heel, he would die. So the story goes.
Despite his strength, he was still vulnerable to weakness.
Many of us also find ourselves vulnerable to weakness. Weaknesses that we assume limit our ability to be successful. Or maybe even weaknesses that could lead to death. But when we discover God’s power in our weakness, we find He transforms our achilles heel into a secret weapon. He strengthens us in our weakness. Keep reading and I’ll tell you how.
I used to teach kindgergarten. And one little boy in my classroom could be challenging at times.
I’ll never forget looking up from my lesson notes while teaching math class to find him standing up on his chair with a bright smile on his face. What happened next is one for the books. A loud howl bursted from his lips, as if he was a coyote sounding out beneath a full moon. It wasn’t long before everyone else followed his lead.
Soon the whole class was coyote howling.
I stood there halfway aggravated and halfway entertained. He’s only 5 and I couldn’t help but laugh.
As I think about this scene, it would seem fitting to view this occurence as a disruption to my class and my student as the disrupter. It would be easy to see this as a weakness in my student…a weakness of rule-breaking, lack of self control, unawareness of classroom etiquette, trouble-making.
But I don’t see it that way.
I see the same weakness that prompted my student to disrupt my class as a strength that will solidify him as a strong leader in the future.
I see fearlessness, charisma, command, boldness… I see strength.
What do you see?
We can be so hard on ourselves and fail to comprehend the gifts God has placed in our DNA that often mask themselves as weaknesses in the wrong context.
We say I can’t…when really, we can.
We just have to find the place that God can use us.
My student seemed weak when shouting out in the middle of class as a 5 year old. But one day, he’s going to be strong shouting out in a crowd of thousands without fear of public speaking or what others think. His weakness in a kindergarten class will be his strength in years to come.
Again, I ask you…what do you see? In YOU?
Are you looking at your weakness?
Or are you letting God reveal your strength in the midst of it instead?
As we seek the Lord in our weaknesses, we find Him transforming it into strength in the exact place He wants to use us.
What makes you weak will make you strong in the proper context.
In the book of Esther, we read the story of a young Jewish girl named Hadassah transformed into a Persian Queen named Esther and positioned to save the Jews from impending annihilation.
Esther’s weakness leads to the salvation of the Jews.
By chapter 4 in the story, Esther has been chosen as Queen and assumes her role in the palace. One day she starts noticing a mass mourning taking place within the city outside the palace among the Jews. They are lamenting draped in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:3).
Esther sends clothes to her uncle Mordecai in verse 4 to ease the mourning but he won’t accept them.
What could be the reason for all the mourning and sadness? Esther wants to know so she sends one of the king’s eunuch’s to talk to Mordecai. What she discovers is a plot to annihilate all of the jews…now she understands the severity of the situation.
However…Esther doesn’t believe that she can do anything to help the Jews at this point.
She has a weakness.
A weakness based on external factors.
An achilles heel.
That can lead to death.
Esther is banned from summoning the king.
Esther replies to Mordecai saying, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live.” (Esther 4:11).
Based on Persian law and royal protocol, Esther cannot approach the king. Unless summoned, she will be put to death. In other words, Esther cannot go talk to her husband, King Ahaseurus (also referred to as King Xerxes), to persuade him to change his mind about the edict against the Jews unless he requests her to come over. Very different from today’s culture, but this is how their culture operated nonetheless.
Her achilles heel is that if she approaches the king unsummoned, she will die.
It looks like Esther’s weakness is standing in the way of the Jews liberation. If she cannot summon the king, she cannot talk to him and therefore cannot persuade him to rescind the edict.
She can’t approach the king nor can anyone.
The NRSV translation of the Bible says “all are alike to be put to death” if they go to the king unsummoned (Esther 4:11).
This isn’t just Esther’s weakness. This is everyone’s weakness. However, Esther’s weakness is about to be transformed into strength because of where she is placed and who she is. She is likely the only Jew in the palace. And God is well aware. God is choosing her to do something about what she has heard.
God is about to use the only Jew in the palace to sway the king to save a whole people.
We see her react two different ways before deciding to do it God’s way.
Esther is hesitant at first.
This is her 1st reaction…
It’s fascinating that upon hearing the death threats against the Jews Esther’s first reaction is not to help, but to remind Mordecai of her own death threat if she were to help them out.
Esther is reacting out of her most basic need for self-preservation, a need that we are called to sacrifice when seeking God’s purpose.
When we fail to seek God’s strength in our weakness, all we can see is ourselves and all the obstacles standing in our way.
If Esther wants to see her weakness become God’s secret weapon, she must give up that desire of self-preservation so that she can help the whole community of the Jews and save them.
What will she do?
Let’s keep reading to find out.
Mordecai receives Esther’s reply and he writes back.
“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
We all need a Mordecai in our life… to remind us of the responsibsiltiy we’ve been given and that no matter the danger, we are entrusted to be brave “for such a time as this.”
Mordecai doesn’t give up on Esther. He writes her again. This time he challenges Esther to be brave and seek the well-being of her people. For Esther also is a Jew. So if she doesn’t step in to help, she will face the consequences of this edict being effected as well.
So often the challenge we run from is the challenge that is meant to preserve us.
At this point, Esther must decide how she is going to handle her weakness.
Will she step into her royal role despite protocol and let the Lord manifest strength? Or will she allow her weakness of no access keep her from pursuing her calling?
Will she go before the king or not?
A shift is occuring in the choices now. Before, Esther assumed she’d face death for approaching the King on the Jews behalf. Now, she knows she will die if she doesn’t.
“Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15-16).
Esther is changing…
This is her 2nd reaction…
Esther decides to throw away her fear and self-preservation… All the sudden her transformation is beginning… Her moment to be used by God is approaching… I’m getting so excited thinking about it!
Esther is going to go before the king!
When we seek God’s strength, we discover bravery to press on despite the threat of death and make a way for others to be set free.
She instructs Mordecai and all the Jews in Susa to begin praying and fasting for three days. She plans do do the same while she prepares for this monumental moment of going before the king unsummoned. All the sudden, her whole disposition is changing.
Finally, Esther now asserts her boldness and wisdom.
Now she’s acting like a real Queen.
When God asks you to be brave and you say yes, new strength rises up in you.
What once highlighted itself as an achilles heel to Esther is transforming into a secret weapon… God’s secret weapon to save the Jews.
The day is here.
Esther and all of Susa awaits.
And as Esther has sought the Lord in her weakness, she recognizes that God brought her to the palace for such a time as this.
Let’s read to see how it unfolds.
“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand.
Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” (Esther 5:1-3)
Immediately, Esther won favor in the king’s sight.
Wow God is powerful.
The King grants her request.
Esther would go on to request a banquet with the king and Haman, the one who plotted the Jews’ annihilation. And the King listens to her. Even though he doesn’t worship Yahweh like she does. This proves how God is in charge of all things and uses our weakness coupled with His strength to make us brave. Influential. World changers.
All of the Jews are saved.
All because Esther lets God make her weakness a strength as she seeks Him.
She transforms into God’s secret weapon to save His people, Israel.
Be encouraged that your weakness is setting you up for God to use you powerfully.
If Esther did not have the weakness of being unable to summon the king, she would never have prayed, fasted and sought the Lord’s power in that moment. She would have relied on her own strength.
If we did not have an Achilles heel or a weakness, we wouldn’t be able to channel the supernatural strength of the Lord. It’s because of Him that we become truly powerful to accomplish anything.
My student who coyote howled in class, who possessed the weakness to shout out in class and get in trouble, went on to become one of my most well behaved students. His weakness forced him to work extra hard to learn how to remain quiet, seated and self-controlled. His weakness created a need. And that need was filled by someone who had more power than him. Someone who knew how to help him. Someone who knew exactly what he needed to be successful. And now he is. Now he is strong in both areas: self-control and charisma. He has both.
God is the one who supplies strength in your need.
Not only is our Achilles heel God’s secret weapon to accomplish powerful works, but it’s His secret weapon to keep us close to Him.
I become dependant on God in my weakness.
And strengthened towards success in the process.
Just like my student.
Just like Esther.
We have a choice. Our weaknesses will remain weaknesses if we forfeit the opportunity to turn to God in the struggle. But if we seek Him, there is no limitation on the glory yet to be revealed.
Let God encourage your heart with the wonder of His power making us stronger through even our weakest places. Hallelujah.
Questions for Today:
- What is my weakness?
- Why did God let me be weak?
- How did Esther rely on the Lord in her weakness?
- How can the Lord convert my weakness into strength?
- Why is my Achilles heel God’s secret weapon?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?