Dr. Jackie Minor
When I am Weak
Teaching has always been a challenging profession. No question about it. When I talk to strong, veteran educators, however, they often say things have changed—teaching is harder than it used to be. Children seem to have more problems. Resources are often dwindling. Sometimes the competing demands placed on teachers—drafting standards, building assessments, learning new technology, serving on committees, attending evening activities—put a strain on personal and professional lives. The teaching profession certainly seems to be getting more difficult.
This time of year is especially taxing. It is a long way until spring break, and testing season looms ahead. Teachers feel such pressure to ensure their students perform well on pending assessments. I can remember times during my teaching career when I could just feel the tension mounting behind my eyes. I felt weak. It was as if the tears were building, and I feared that one more unpleasant comment or event would send me over the edge.
To be completely transparent, I had such moments, and it is in those times that I often went into self-preservation mode. Depending on our personalities, we all react to this level of stress differently. Some of us withdraw; others lash out. Neither is particularly healthy, and if we aren’t careful, we can often make things worse.
In no way do I profess to have all the answers. I also may or may not understand your situation. In an effort to encourage, I humbly offer some thoughts from God’s Word.
I love reading about Peter. Peter was such a vivid character in the Scriptures. You never had to wonder what he was thinking! If you remember, Peter was the one who climbed out of the boat and walked across the lake toward Jesus in Matthew 14. He was the disciple who cut off a soldier’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane in an effort to protect Jesus. Peter was also the one who, after swearing he would never forsake Jesus, denied knowing Him three times.
Peter denied Jesus three times. I have often wondered how he could do that. After all, Peter walked and talked with Jesus for three years. He saw him heal the sick, feed the five thousand, calm the storm…the list goes on and on. Peter loved Jesus. Peter believed in Jesus. Peter followed Jesus. Peter trusted Jesus. Yet, when it came time to take a stand in a stressful situation, Peter repeatedly denied knowing Christ. Why?
I believe the answer can be found in Jesus’ own words to Peter in Luke 22:31-32.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
You see, Jesus had not gone to the cross yet. Peter had not yet received the Holy Spirit of God. Carter Conlon noted in a recent podcast for Times Square Church that without the Spirit of God, we live to preserve ourselves. This is simply the reality of the human condition. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would sustain him, but He had to know that it was humanly impossible.
The good news lies in the latter part of that verse: when you once have turned again. Jesus knew that once Peter received the Holy Spirit, everything would change. Jesus knew then and He knows now that in our own efforts, we are weak. He knew we would need a Helper, and He made it clear that He would not leave us alone.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14: 26-27
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. John 15:26
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. John 16:7
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. John 16:13-15
Although Peter was weak in his own efforts prior to the crucifixion, he was STRONG after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. All throughout the Book of Acts we read of Peter performing miracles and boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ despite imminent danger to his life. Peter’s focus was no longer on self-preservation. He was focused solely on others by preaching salvation to those who were lost. Only the Spirit of God can make that transformation possible. Only the Spirit of God can take us in our weakest moments and make us strong for the kingdom of God.
Do you ever wonder why there are so many self-help programs available today? Everywhere you turn there is some new fad telling us how to be strong, how to be successful, and how to stay positive. While many of these programs have sound principles, there is no power in programs. So many people in our society are trying to survive the stress of life in their own strength. You and I both know those efforts are futile.
The sad news is that many Christians (just like Peter) fall into the trap of self-preservation during times of stress. Like Peter, we may love, follow, trust, and believe in Jesus. However, we still attempt to navigate life’s difficulties in our own strength. As a result, we remain weak and discouraged. We can only be made strong through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. Paul knew this all too well.
I receive joy when I am weak. I receive joy when people talk against me and make it hard for me and try to hurt me and make trouble for me. I receive joy when all these things come to me because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 2:10
You may be saying, “Well, this all makes sense. Now what? What can I do to experience the power of the Holy Spirit?”
First and foremost, you have to have accept Jesus as your Savior. If you are questioning this or need help, go to this link: https://peacewithgod.net.
If you are a follower of Christ but are feeling weak and powerless, there is hope! Please know you are not alone. Life is full of challenges and frustrations. God knows your situation and stands ready to strengthen you. We are promised in James 4 that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
We can draw near to God and experience the Holy Spirit’s presence in many ways, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Remember God’s promises. Write them down and review them regularly.
2. Speak truth from God’s Word. Read his Word and speak His truths out loud.
3. Be honest with God in prayer. He is your friend. He loves you.
4. Choose three people in whom to invest. Maybe it is a new teacher, a student, or a colleague. Choose to shine the light of Jesus in their lives.
5. Pray, pray, pray. There is power in prayer. The Holy Spirit often speaks to our hearts during prayer.
6. Recite Galatians 5:22-23 daily. Pray that the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Remember, stress is a reality of life. Also remember, you have the power (God’s Holy Spirit) to make a difference. Each trial is really an opportunity for God to show Himself faithful.
When I am weak, He is strong!
P.S. So many Godly people spoke truth into my heart for this blog, and they don’t even know it! God orchestrates all things, and I am so grateful. Thank you Carter Conlon, Pastor of Times Square Church, Mike Simmons, Pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Vern Minor, hubby and Sunday School teacher, fellow Sunday School class members, and spiritual supporters Joan Zeberlein, Krissi Camper, Ann Herrell, Lauren Peel, Ayana Lucas, and Dawn Hlavsa-Suk. God is using you in my life. I love you all!