The winter was mild. February's final weekend had seventy degree temperatures. Then March's first weekend slaughtered expectations! Saturday's predicted "dusting" of snow became significant accumulations that buried roads. Saturday's early mid-thirty degree temperatures plunged to eleven degrees by Sunday's sunrise. The coldest air of our winter brought many things to a quick halt.

Friday my yard had early spring flowers. In the back, giant buttercup blooms gaudily demanded attention. In the front, smaller buttercup blooms stood as strong sentinels of an early spring. I almost could hear them defiantly declare, "Cool days may come, but they cannot hurt us! They may bend our stems, but our radiant blooms will shine!"

Then the unexpected rapidly roared through. Tolerable temperatures became intolerable. As mid-thirties quickly fell to mid-twenties, my giant butter cups in the back bowed to the ground. Snow covered them completely--they disappeared! The smaller, front butter cups stood defiantly erect as the snow fell. The snow stopped. The temperature continued to plummet. They, too, bowed. They were visible, but defiance became weakness as they fell on top of the snow. The unexpected humbled them.

When favorable conditions are in control, our faith does "marvelous things." Defiantly, it says, "Difficult days occasionally may come. But when they do, they will be temporary. I will endure spiritually! I will survive spiritually! I will triumph spiritually regardless!"

Then the unexpected comes in unimaginable forms and ways: a catastrophic illness; the failing health of someone we love; the loss of a "secure" job; radical, necessary changes in lifestyle; a permanently weakened body; the death of someone who was not supposed to die. Maybe we are quickly "on the ground" hidden from view. Maybe we defiantly stand erect until overwhelmed. Regardless, the unexpected humbles us. Doubts, questions, and confusion flood our minds. The line separating humility and despair blurs.

When favorable situations exist, often our faith draws its substance from our strength. When the unexpected happens, strength depending on "self" is never enough to sustain faith. A strong, defiant faith nourished by favorable conditions wilts fast under the control of the unexpected.

Our Lord wants us to accept our weakness. He knows it is there even when we are confident in our strength. Why does He want us to be aware of our weakness? Struggling disciples depend on His strength instead of their strength. "My grace is sufficient for you; for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The strength Christ wants in us is the strength of dependence. That is faith.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 10 March 2002

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