Over the last week, I have watched my 91-year-old father struggle to regain his strength and his dignity as he recuperates in a local hospital from a couple of unexpected seizures. It has been a difficult week as we navigate the murky waters of uncertainty regarding his future. He is improving, but has a long way to go. From this point forward, he will be doing everything with the aid of a walker. That is going to take some getting used to for all of us. His strength has been diminished as a result of the two seizures. That will take some time to restore. Just getting out of bed is a chore. Taking a walk around the nurse’s station and back is like a marathon for him. But his spirit is indomitable. He keeps doing what he is told to do by the nurses, no matter how difficult it may seem to be. He allows them to poke and prod him. He eats their “gruel” and swallows their pills. He allows himself to be awakened from a sound sleep to have vital signs taken and questioned yet again if he is in pain. Don’t get me wrong, his nurses have been wonderful and I cannot imagine doing their job. But I have been amazed at my dad’s attitude through all of this. It reminded me of a well-known, if not popular verse from Paul.
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT
Like Paul, my dad has learned over time that God has a purpose for everything in his life. There are no wasted moments or situations that are ever out of sight of His watchful, loving eye. Dad has been through a lot over the years. More surgeries than he would like to recall. Numerous close calls with death. A lifetime of taking medication for a variety of ailments. But through it all, he has remained confident in God’s love and completely content with his own weakness. Again, like Paul, my dad could provide a list as long as your arm of all the things he has suffered over the years, all while faithfully attempting to serve God well. But rather than brag about his exploits, he would say along with Paul, “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am” (2 Corinthians 11:30 NLT). Dad has become comfortable with his weakness. That doesn’t mean he likes walking with a walker or having to be assisted by a perfect stranger when taking a shower. But he simply understands that his weakness is just a sign of his humanness. He is a created being who desperately needs his Creator God. That’s why, when he is awake, he would rather read his Bible than watch TV. He would prefer to have a conversation with his God than talk to one of us. He doesn’t view this most recent situation as some kind of setback, but simply as an opportunity to rely on God more. Like Paul, my dad has heard from the Lord, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” And he has learned from experience just how true that promise really is.
I have been amazed to watch how my dad has handled his ordeal in the hospital. He remains a man of faith. He is not angry, but content and thankful. He is not impatient and surly, but kind and gracious to any and all who walk into his room. He does not complain or demand his rights. He simply rests in the calm assurance that God knows what is happening and has a perfectly good purpose for it. While my dad may be weak in strength, he is strong in faith. While he may not be able to walk long or far, he is making major strides in his walk with God. His love for God is growing, not shrinking. He has days of rehab ahead of him. His days of driving are probably behind him. But he is joyful, prayerful, humble, grateful, and completely comfortable with his own weakness. Because he serves a mighty God.