What To Do When You’re Weak
Keep actively watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
We can learn a thing or two from our friends in Alcoholics Anonymous. They are ruthlessly honest about their weaknesses, which led to tragic consequences because they gave in again and again to the temptation to drink. For years, they denied they had a problem, or if they were confronted with it; they said, “Oh, it’s no big deal.” Now, honesty about their weaknesses is the foundation for recovery, growth, and strength.
Most of us don’t want to admit we’re weak in any way. We try to project that we have it all together, but our bravado makes us vulnerable to temptation in our sexual appetites, ethics, preoccupation with material possessions, neglect of God; or a dozen other areas of life.
Jesus told His followers (and us) to avoid temptation by doing two things when weak: First, watch for trouble. We need to be good students of our hearts and our behavior so that we see temptation before it springs it’s trap. We don’t have to be geniuses to notice these things. We can tell when we’re thinking more about these things, when they seem more attractive, and when the consequences seem to escape our thoughts. And we can notice the situations (stress, tiredness, conflict, and so forth) that seem to trigger the desire to escape.
Second, Jesus reminded His followers to connect with God when weak. At those difficult moments, we may think that prayer is the last thing we want to do, but Jesus said it should be high on the list.
When you feel weak, watch and pray.
If the Holy Spirit guides us, he will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
The little word “if” has incredible power to affect our lives and our futures. Most of the promises of God hinge on this little word. In 2 Chronicles, God tells Solomon what He will do “if” the people of God will act. Listen:
“If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people, and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
God literally says “If you will, I will.”
There are none that do not face temptations almost every day. But just because we face temptations does not mean that we must yield or we sin. The Bible tells us that Christ Himself faced temptations- not just in the wilderness but throughout His life here on earth.
“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.”
The temptations we face feel unique to us. We are quite sure that nobody struggles like we do. We are sure that the devil and our past are ganging up on us and we have no power to resist such a force. We try to hide our failures, denying that they exist, and putting on a front that all is well. Like Peter we make our brag, but when it comes down to it, we find ourselves failing again and again. Can we ever change, we wonder.
First of all, we have hope in knowing that we aren’t alone or the only one facing temptations.
“No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].”
1 Corinthians 10:13
Second of all, we just confess our failures to the all-knowing, and all-caring God.
“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His word is not in us
1 John 1:8-10
There’s that little word, “if” again. John says that our first “if” is to admit that we have sinned for as long as we excuse, rationalize, or blame our conduct on others rather than taking responsibility, “we delude ourselves.” Better it is John says to “freely admit that we have sinned.” And when we do the other side of “if” comes into play-Gods response. John says that once we admit our sin then God who is faithful and just will forgive. That’s it in a nutshell and that’s what AA has discovered that will release someone from the chains of continually repeating the past.
Need a change in your life? Need a hand up? Confess your struggle, your battle with temptation, your weakness of resistance. If you will choose that course, God will respond with forgiveness and cleansing. Not only will God forgive your sins but He will also give you strength to resist and ultimately overcome that which temps you. The Christ who was tempted in every way and everything stands at your side against the power of sin and the voice of the tempter.
I realize we are taught to be strong or stay strong and to cover our weaknesses and hide our failures. Many gather in churches week after week only to go home and face the very same battles with the very same results. Often this is because of the pressure to give the appearance that all is well. Rarely are those who find the courage to openly confess their struggles lest they become the subject of gossip. Many assume that the only confession necessary is the initial confession for salvation and after that we are to just do the best we can. But shouldn’t church be the safe haven where we can admit we are struggling with temptation and can find help long before the temptation overpowers us and we fall? There’s an old saying that says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I pray that each of us will have access to someone somewhere who will come alongside us in our weaknesses to keep us from falling. I long for church gatherings to become times of seeking help from God and the family of God without shame or embarrassment. I long for the church to become healthy enough that we all feel comfortable admitting our weaknesses, our temptations, and our struggles. I long to see Christians overcoming temptations rather then hiding them. Like the human body, only when the infection is exposed, can true healing begin.
So why not take time right now wherever you are and have an honest, open conversation with God. Admit to Him your weakness and failures. You’ll be glad you did, for you will receive from Him forgiveness and strength beyond your wildest dreams.
“but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Dr. John Thompson