"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." - 2 Corinthians 11:30
In the blockbuster movie, Black Panther, T'Challa returns to his native African home of Wakanda in order to replace his deceased father as king. As the Black Panther, T'Challa possesses amazing quickness, technological mastery and super-human strength. But in order to defend and assume the leadership of his his beloved Wakanda, T'Challa has to divest himself of his super powers, and become as weak as any other human.
Only in becoming weak can the Black Panther reveal the strength of his character. Only in his weakness can his true courage be tested. Much more than his amazing abilities as a superhero, it is the power he reveals in his weakness that qualifies him to lead his people of Wakanda.
For many years of my life, I thought that the portrayal of power meant the downplaying of weakness. I gravitated toward the macho-muscular depictions of Christianity that promulgated proclamations of spiritual invincibility. But I've come to realize that a spotlight on Victory without the corresponding reality of Vulnerability was not a true representation of my own experience. I've never experienced strength without struggle. The glory of the Resurrection means nothing to me without the agony of the Crucifixion.
It is precisely the acknowledgement of my own struggles and weaknesses that has given me the power to connect with the struggles and weaknesses of others, and the shared compassion produced by shared suffering is precisely what fuels the empowerment of community.
It is true that only bruised hands can bless. Only a broken heart can hear the hurts of others. Only a wounded healer can cure. It's not an endorsement for self-flagellation. It's really something quite remarkable to boast about.
"In the cross....In the cross....Be my glory ever."
Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.