Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Strong Weakness

Emergency services were called to my home a few weeks ago, simply to get me up and out of a reclining chair. Since my latest physical challenges at Eastertime, my muscles have weakened and I'm relying on various aids to help me get around.

Not that I "get around" all that much. I now spend a lot of time in the new electric lift-chair that we bought to replace "the recliner-from-which-I-could-not-stand-up."

I recently talked with a friend about this, remarking that I sometimes feel frustrated at not being able to do anything. My friend swiftly reminded me that oh, I can do many things. I am blogging and writing more than ever, and I'm praying, and I'm gathering bits of saintly inspiration to share here, in this little corner of cyberspace. 

"You're touching people across the earth" said my friend, "and you're doing it from a lift chair!"

Indeed that is something to ponder. Especially in those moments when I feel as if I'm not contributing much to God's work, I find it helpful to recall what I can do ... even from what appears to be a position of helplessness. I sit back in the lift chair, my little computer on a lap desk stretched from arm to arm across it, and I type out words written centuries ago by a saint. Meanwhile, a woman half a world away needs some encouragement. I do not know this, but God does; He knows and loves this lady, and He can inspire me to pick something especially for her as I sit back in my lift chair and pray about what to share.

My new chair is a welcome gift and tool.  The muscle weakness that makes me need it, however, does not feel at all like a gift. I'd be more likely to label that a thorn in the flesh. 

"I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me" wrote St. Paul of his own thorn. "But He said to me, 'My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

I don't like to call attention to my weaknesses. I prefer to deny them, pretend they aren't there, ignore them altogether. St. Paul, however, reacted differently. He boasted about his weakness, so that the power of God might reside in him. He was content with trials for the sake of Christ. He accepted and embraced the Lord's truth that God's power is made perfect in weakness. 

Maybe it's time to shout from the housetops that when we are weak, God's power can reach perfection. Maybe I should proclaim the truth that God can keep us content in spite of muscle weakness, serene in physical discomfort, and able to evangelize from a lift chair. 

His grace is more than enough.

"I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched then in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: 'Whoever is a little one let him come to me.' The elevator which must raise me to heaven is your arms, O Jesus, and for this I have no need to grow up, but rather I have to remain little and become this more and more," And so she abandoned herself to Jesus and her life became a continual acceptance of the will of the Lord." (St Therese of Lisieux's Life at Carmel, Society of the Little Flower)

Painting at top: Louis Comfort Tiffany, Louise Tiffany Reading


  1. I am so grateful for what you do! I read your blog regularly and I'm always inspired and many times it's just what I needed. I also write down many of your quotes on a little chalkboard hanging in my home so others can be inspired too. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know this.. it means a lot!

  2. cloistered heart & breadbox letters are the only two emails I get that I NEVER skip reading. you are a source of spiritual direction and nourishment for many of us. thank you for being willing to serve the church in this way.

  3. Oh Nancy, I must have missed that post! I'm so sorry you have this trouble. The words you write are a light to my soul and many others, I'm sure. I save a lot of them. There's been many family issues this year and so I missed the fact that you haven't blogged much. You are in my prayers, dear Nancy. God bless you and may he shower you with many consolations and graces!

    1. Thank you, Aileen. I actually only had a few weeks with no posts at all, and since that was right at Easter time I doubt that anyone really noticed. I haven't wanted to focus on my trials..but on the other hand, I do see them through the "grille" at present! The important part, of course, being "through the grille"

  4. Dear Nancy
    Thank you for this post. Thank you for always being such a inspiration for us. Please know that we are praying for you.

    Thank you so much!
    God bless you.

    Ps.I have sent you a email last week. Did you receive it?

    1. I did receive it, Marisa, and thank you! I wrote in response, but apparently didn't push "send"!!!! (it happens :)!) I'll go find it now..

      And thank you particularly for prayer!