Work Like Everything Depends on You(r weakness) | August 31

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “Pray like everything depends on God, but work like everything depends on you”? I both love and detest this phrase. I love it because it puts everything in God’s hands, while still recognizing that God’s hands on earth are you. I detest it because sometimes I can get hyper-focused on everything depending on me.

St. Paul details time and again that by himself he is nothing. “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling.” Famously, in 2nd Corinthians Paul says, “I will boast of the things that show my weakness. …I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

For so long I could not understand this paradox. Honestly, I still fail to understand it most of the time. It’s only when I am consistently bringing the idea to prayer that the Lord helps me understand. Everything that comes from the Lord is rooted in the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control). If we do anything that doesn’t have these fruits attached to them, then we can safely question whether the Holy Spirit is at work.

Jesus transforms our weakness when we acknowledge His power. Weakness keeps our spiritual lives sterile when it is shrouded in shame, when we are consumed by our own inadequacy. But Jesus can transform weakness. Here’s what it usually looks like in my life:

I’ll get really excited about something that I think the Lord is inviting me to do. I’ll plan and work and plan and work and get distracted and plan and work some more. Ultimately, I’ll get so overwhelmed, frustrated, and dejected that all my planning and working seems to be going nowhere. I’ll want to give up and I’ll go to Jesus in prayer and tell Him that I can’t do it anymore. I’ll bemoan that I’m not good enough or that someone else would do it so much better than I can. The longer I sit in prayer, though, the more it begins to dawn on me: I’m right, I can’t do it. And God doesn’t want me to. He wants to do it. I slowly get almost giddy in the realization that I don’t have to solve the world’s problems! Well, my world’s problems. The more I let go of my own expectations or what I have to do, the more supernatural my actions become. When Jesus takes over, the fruit of my actions stop making sense. More people say yes to my invitations than ever before. Things start to go right. The stars align, as they say.

I wish that I could get to the end of that painful process sooner. I wish that I could always remember that Jesus wants to work through me. I would constantly rejoice in my weakness and glorify Jesus because of what He can do through little old me. It’s what Mary cries in her song when she visits Elizabeth, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”

I challenge you to take some time to sit with this idea today. Use today’s first reading, Paul’s passage from 2 Corinthians 11:30-12:10, or the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-56 to guide your prayer. How does shame of your weakness bind you? How does pride prevent you from recognizing and embracing your weakness? How might the Lord trying to transform your weakness into something supernatural?


-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization