My hands gripped the steering wheel like I was driving through a thunderstorm, but the car wasn’t moving. I sat in a dark parking lot with my hands at ten and two while tears streamed down my cheeks. Not the pretty kind you might see in an old film, where a single tear can be gently dabbed away with a tissue. My chest heaved, and I wailed more like a child than the twenty-year-old woman I was. It was a cry from the deep—not just tears for another failed relationship but the physical response of disappointment heaped upon disappointment, mess upon mess that I’d made of my life. I’d lived apart from God, but could I even call it life? For all I’d done and tried, I had nothing but ruins to show for it.
For the first time in my adult life, I raised a sincere cry to God. With head low, I could mutter only two words: “Help me.”
And help he did.
Within the week, I heard the gospel and believed. I surrendered my life to Christ. God helped me not by instantly cleaning up the mess I’d made of life but by giving me new life in him.
When I look back on those moments, nearly twenty years ago now, I think of the deepest kind of weakness a person can experience. Something worse than being keeled over with back pain or feeling insufficient for a task. It’s the kind of weakness that each person must reckon with before a holy God. Our souls suppress it because we don’t want to face how minuscule, broken, dead, and incapable we are apart from him.
Knowing you need a strength outside of your own might be something you considered at such a young age that your memory of surrendering to Christ comes in shadows and flashes. You’ve spent your life walking with God and experiencing joy in Christ, even though it’s not been a perfect journey. Through the doubts, the ups and downs, you know the weakness of your flesh and your need for grace. For as long as you remember, you’ve lived as a debtor forgiven and saved.
Or perhaps, as in my case, God opened your eyes and ears to the gospel as a teenager or young adult, and you made the walk of a prodigal into the arms of your heavenly Father. He gently sifted your life through a colander, his loving hands shaking away every worthless thing, leaving only bits to build from as you walked forward in faith and obedience.
Or maybe you’ve never reckoned with your weakness. Perhaps you’re tired, overwhelmed, discouraged, worn down, and frustrated with your own striving. You’ve tried every option for hope and help under the sun, and you’re out of ideas. You sense a weight on your soul heavier than you can lift, and it’s pressing your knees to the ground. Oh, friend, low is exactly the right direction to go.
Today, if you feel weak because you’ve made mess upon mess of your life, or because mess upon mess has been heaped upon you, let the weight drop you low. Collapse beneath the load in sweet relief. And leave the weight of your weakness again at the feet of Jesus Christ. There is no reason for you to try to clean up the mess in a strength you don’t possess. Instead, cry out to Jesus Christ. He allowed himself to be crushed so you could walk freely today. And he lends his ear to every “woe.”
Emily A. Jensen is the author of the new book He Is Strong: Devotions for When You Feel Weak. We all feel weak sometimes. He Is Strong encourages you to rest in God’s help and strength for every one of your inadequacies.