The Glory of Weakness (by Sister Joan Chittister)
“In my weakness is my strength,” Paul writes (2 Cor .12:10). I never understood that passage nor did I like it until, struck with polio as a young woman, I began to realize that if I ever walked again, it would not be thanks to me, it would be thanks to everyone around me who formed the human chain that kept me human. When I could not move, they carried me. When I could not work, they found functions for me that justified my existence. When I could not find a reason for going on, they liked me enough to give me back a sense of human connectedness. When I could not cure myself they cured me of the clay of my limits and turned them into life again. They taught me the glories of weakness.From this week's Ideas in Passing. [You can get "Ideas in Passing" by signing up for Sister Joan's email newsletter here.]
When I most of all wanted to be strong and like no other time in life found myself defined by my weaknesses, I began to understand the great question of life. If I do not need other people, what can I ever learn? And if I do not need other people, what is their own purpose in life, what is their claim on my own gifts when they need me as I have needed them. The moment I come to realize that it is precisely the gifts which I do not myself embody that make me claimant to the gifts of others — and they of mine — marks the moment of my spiritual beginning. Suddenly, creaturehood becomes gift and power and the beginning of unlimited personal growth.
But personal development is not the only by-product of a holy consciousness of creaturehood. The comprehension of human need, the awareness of human accountability also makes the massacres in Darfur and the poverty in Bangladesh both more understandable and more tragic. To expect God to stop such travesties, to wait for God to solve such sin begs the question of culpability, avoids the accountability that comes with creaturehood.
We do not need God to solve such things. There is no need, no value, nothing to be gained by God’s saving what we will not. “God hears the cry of the poor,” the psalmist reminds us. The psalm says not a word about God changing things, only that God “hears.” And remembers. And waits for us to become more than we are. Like infants born with the potential to be adults, we are each created with the potential to become wholly human, totally mature, completely spiritual people.
— from In Search of Belief (Liguori) by Joan Chittister