I checked on my mountain of gum that I am secretly building under the pew in church, and I’m happy to report that it still has not been discovered and removed. I have been working on it for five months — one piece of gum every Sunday.
I call it my volcano, but I suppose that’s not the best term because it’s upside-down. Maybe I should call it a stalagmite — or stalactite. I forget which. In any case, this is my secret project. Only a few friends know about it.
What surprises me though is that no one has found it. I mean, the pastor is always going on about how everybody needs to serve in the church. So I guess they’re not doing very well.
It’s getting to the point where I am thinking about actually measuring it, so its progress could be scientific — you know, like they do with the global warming and the disappearance of polar ice. But the problem is: How to do it without getting caught? I guess it’s easy to stick a wad of freshly chewed gum. But if I pull out a ruler and stoop under the pew, it would draw too much attention. I spent over half of the sermon thinking up a way to do it. Before I knew it, the service was over, and I didn’t even get bored.
Hannah bore the misery of powerlessness. Childless, she cringed under the withering scorn of those around her and even doubted the love of her husband. There was nothing she could do about it — no fertility doctors back then. In prayer, her lips quivered so bad that the chief priest mistook for a drunk woman.
Powerlessness is the story of salvation. We are absolutely powerlessness to fulfill the law and earn our way to Heaven. So Christ came down from Heaven to do it for us as a man. Powerlessness, then, is the essence of Christianity.
So don’t be overly distressed in a moment of utter powerlessness. 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 — 2 Cor. 12:10 NIV. Powerlessness is the stage call the Powerful One. He will appear on scene and vanquish all things that have cornered us and deprived us of our dignity.
Hannah’s prayer got answered. Silencing her rival, she gave birth to Samuel the prophet — and a few more kids afterward. Her rancor turned to rapture.
I used to dismiss the notion of powerlessness. I had heard it in terms of sociologists who described people trapped by poverty. They’re just making excuses, I snorted.
Then, I grappled with powerlessness myself. When I was a missionary, an extortionist falsely accused me of a crime. I was the victim, but I feared the corrupt justice system coupled with anti-gringo sentiment would conspire to send me to the hellhole of jail in Guatemala. I fasted five days a week. I went to bed thinking about jail and woke up thinking about jail. I was gripped by the claws of powerlessness.
At the end, God vindicated the innocent. I learned to trust Him even in the ugliest of scenarios. And I no longer scoffed at powerlessness. It is a huge and terrifying force.
When you’re facing cancer, you can feel powerless. When the recession closes all doors to you. With your prodigal child. With your unfaithful spouse. Addiction can render you powerless to stop abusing drugs. A hurricane is coming, and you can’t stop it or escape. You cannot take control of your future. There is nothing you can do. It is out of your hands. Anyone can belittle your struggle, but only you face these demons alone.
Being powerless is good. It throws you on God entirely. It arouses faith like nothing else. Your moment of powerlessness will be hellish anguish. But it will also be sweetest fellowship with the Lord. (Praise and worship was my only relief from my living nightmare!)
When you are powerless, He remains powerful.