Learning to Give Out of My Weakness

By Tom Gilson Published on September 6, 2018

I woke up tired and grumpy this morning. It’s been five or six days since I got a good night’s rest. God has blessed me with some incredible gifts — a great family, a nice home, and comfortable circumstances in many ways, except I’ve had a lot of physical challenges over the past several years. This week they’ve been keeping me awake. I’ve been tired pretty much all day, every day lately.

Honestly, though, I’ve had an even bigger long-term prayer need for myself than that. I look at Jesus’ example of love in the gospels and it almost scares me: I fall so far short. My attention is far too focused on my own needs and wants. The Good Samaritan in Luke 10 was willing to sacrifice his time and money to help the injured man, which is great. His love for others outstripped my own even before that, though, when he looked and noticed the man’s need. Too often I’m so wrapped up in myself I don’t see others’ situations.

The Spiritual Gift of Being Oblivious?

I’m probably more comfortable being alone than 99 percent of the population. In college I was a trombone major. I had great friends in the music department, in Campus Crusade for Christ and in other groups there, but my 2 to 4 hours a day alone in the practice room were just fine with me, too. Now I’m a writer. I wouldn’t have much to write about if I didn’t spend real time with real people, but again, my time alone with the keyboard is very comfortable for me.

Sometimes when I’m in a crowd, and people are bumping into each other, I’ll joke with them, saying, “May I get in your way for you?” If I’m at church I’ll add, “It’s one of my spiritual gifts, you know!” Well, I’ve got another “gift” that’s just as “spiritual” (not!): the gift of being oblivious. I’m so good at it, I can do it without even trying. In fact, I have to try hard not to do it! I have be very intentional about opening my eyes, to realize what’s going on around me. 

Rising Above

And this morning in my tiredness, God in His grace led me to do that. I had started out praying for myself, but then I asked myself, “Who else could I pray for this morning? Is there anyone I could encourage?”

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I remembered the friend who’s under evaluation for cancer. I remembered the other church friend whose husband is having a hard time recovering from an unusual injury sustained on the job as a police officer. I even remembered how much Sara, my wife, and I have appreciated getting to know these two people over the past several months. So I prayed for them, and wrote them both personal notes.

And then I noticed the grumpiness had faded away. Taking time to care about others had improved my whole view on my day!

Reality, Not Hypocrisy

Now, if this were just a prescription for how to feel better it would be absurdly self-contradictory: “Think about other people’s needs — it’s a sure-fire way to take care of yourself!” It would turn “caring” for into a hypocritical means to caring for yourself. I suppose some people try to work it that way.

But there’s a better way to look at it: It’s just the way God designed us to live. He intended us to care for others, even when we have needs of our own. And if caring for others does something good for us, that’s because it’s in His plan; it’s part of the design with which He designed us. We’re bound to do better living in line with our design than by fighting against it.

The apostle Paul learned in 2 Corinthians 12 how God used Paul’s weakness to glorify Himself. In my case I think God wants to use my weakness to help me learn love others more. I’ve got a long way to go. May God continue to teach me, so I can learn to love as He loves.

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