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When I Am Weak, I Am Strong

We all want to believe that we have it together. We want to believe we’re in control, and that the problems we face are with the rest of the world—not with our own hearts. And because we’re so afraid of the pain of failure, we cover up our addictions, hiding them even from ourselves, in shame and denial that there is anything wrong in our lives.

Shame, denial, and the illusion of control are the biggest setbacks in the way of recovery. But it’s OK—everybody fails. Part of the human condition is that we are all weak and fallible beings. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), . . . all of us. And it’s OK that you fail, but not that you live in denial of your weaknesses.

The Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) He doesn’t say, “My strength is made perfect when you appear to be in control.” He doesn’t say, “My strength is made perfect when you learn to effectively cover up your weaknesses.” He says that “[His] strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.”

Time and time again, God does the most amazing things in my life when I feel most inadequate. Whether in my healing journey, or in my ministry, or in my relationships, or in my family, or in my office work, God shows up in the best ways when I finally realize that I can’t do it. When I don’t feel like I have the right answers; when I don’t know how to pray; when I don’t have the right words; when I fall flat on my face in failure and all I want to do is run and hide . . . that’s when God’s strength is made perfect in me. That’s when He comes and does something so amazing that there’s no question where the glory is due, and that’s when I learn that I need to take the back seat and let Him be God.

Too many people get stuck after they realize and admit their failures because they still won’t give up control. You can be well aware of your addictions, and even why you keep turning back to these things over and over again. You can know all the triggers, join all the support groups, and read all the self-help books you can find, but if you still think you can do this on your own, you’ll end up right back where you started—maybe not now, maybe not in six months, but you will eventually fall prey to the same old habits that got you started.
It’s not that self-control and determination aren’t helpful to the process—as a matter of fact, they can be very helpful to treating the symptoms of an addiction—but as the Scripture says, “[though] the spirit indeed is willing, the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Yet so many people try to conquer their addictions on their own. I know I sure did, but the longest I could make it on my own was for three months here and six months there. Sooner or later, the pain would become too great for my mind and heart to bear on their own, and I would turn back to my familiar comforts. After a few failed attempts like that, hopelessness began to set in, which led only to further pain and to deeper dependencies on my addictions.
So this is the next step after admitting that you have a problem. You must also admit that you are powerless in and of yourself to overcome your weaknesses, and you must get help. Addictions are not helpless! There are countless people who have been and are being set free from their addictions every day, but it’s “‘not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

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