Strength

January 11, 2013

Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 2:1-10
 
"Your faith…does not rest on human wisdom but on God's power."

William C. Green

I used to wish for stronger faith. As a young adult I was moved by what Julian of Norwich and T.S. Eliot wrote: "All shall be well" and "all manner of things shall be well." But I could barely believe it. My natural optimism proved thin-skinned and defensive. I'm not altogether beyond this.

But I have learned from Paul that faith doesn't rest on being optimistic. It doesn't rest on what I can conceive and believe. And it doesn't rest on hope or love or good intentions. It rests on God. So Paul even says, "When I am weak, then I am strong." Strength, in Paul's view, can be an impediment - something that places self-confidence over God-confidence. The strength Paul needed was a consequence of God's power, not a matter of his own certainty and assurance which he considered "as nothing."

Weak or little faith - "as small as a mustard seed," Jesus says - can "move mountains." It's not stronger faith that does the trick. The spiritual determination that matters begins with the little we have, not all we want.

Maybe the gateways to God are precisely what I had tried to avoid: inadequacy and doubt. I've come to believe that what counts is doing what Abraham and Sarah did by "going out not knowing." They were puzzled about what lay ahead but not deterred by uncertainty. There was nothing between themselves and God.

Prayer

God, whatever my weakness or doubt, may I rely on you to face what lies ahead in the spirit of Abraham and Sarah. Amen.

About the Author
William C. Green is Vice-President for Strategy and Development, Moral Courage Project, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the author of 52 Ways to Ignite Your Congregation: Generous Giving.

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