I'm sitting in a hospital room as I begin writing this. Earlier in the week, Uni and I took a spill while riding our tandem bike; I slammed my right side hard against a curb, as well as acquiring quite a bit of road rash on my right knee and elbow and on both hands; Uni received a huge blood blister near her right eye. We sat there in pain for a few minutes, then got back on our bike (which was undamaged) and rode a few more miles.
I didn't think too hard about it -- I always felt that I had a pretty high tolerance for pain -- until a couple of days later, as the pain seemed to intensify and my breathing became more labored. Anyway, after some loving persuasion from Uni and some friends, I ended up in the hospital. I have a collapsed lung, a broken rib and a chip at the end of another rib.
I feel weak; I feel dependent; I don't like this! I am now at the mercy of doctors, nurses and technicians as they poke me and probe me, as they wheel me away for one more test or x-ray. I have tubes attached to me; I can't move -- even in bed -- without pain or getting entangled in tubes.
I'm a man and I am proud. It is at times like this that I realize how proud I am. I'm 76 years old and am told that I don't look it. (I know Uni doesn't look her 75 years). We can still walk a few miles and ride our bikes. We go dancing. I take pride that I can keep dancing with my friends' wives after the men are worn out (if they can dance at all).
But now! Now I feel 76 years old! Or even older!
At times the Apostle Paul seems a bit proud in his writings -- especially in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians from which the quote at the top comes. When we read of his sufferings in 6:4ff, we can't help but admire his physical strength and endurance. And then in chapter 11:16ff he really cuts loose.
And then in the middle of his "boasting," he says something that sounds strange. 11:30: "If it is necessary to boast, I will boast in the things of my weaknesses."
Our heroes are persons of great strength (or at least must appear so), whether sports stars or movie stars or comic book superheroes. Even rock and country musicians have to have the sleeves ripped off their shirts to display their bulging biceps. And we normal mortals do our best to emulate them. We exercise and work out, not just for our health, but also for our appearance.
But every so often God reminds us of just how weak we are, as He did with Paul. And as He did with me. God doesn't need our physical strength or our emotional strength or any other kind. God rather desires our dependence on Him. He wants us to recognize that any strength to accomplish anything of worth comes not from ourselves but from Him.
I'm home from the hospital as I finish this. I'm healing nicely. I can probably get back on the bike soon, though I'm a bit reluctant to do so.
Thank You, Father, for the lesson on weakness. Please help me not to forget as I heal.