Editor's note:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. —2 Corinthians 12:9-10

An always timely reflection from Richard Foster on the immense power hidden in the seeming weakness of those who remain faithful to God.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from The Challenge of the Disciplined Life

What does the power that creates look like? Think of Jeremiah, who remained true to the word of God in the most discouraging of circumstances. We call him the weeping prophet and for good reason. In a day when the religious leaders were catering their message to fit the prevailing political winds, Jeremiah spoke the Dabar Yahweh, the word of the Lord. That word was a discouraging one at best, a word of defeat and not of victory. And the people rejected Jeremiah’s word of warning and even persecuted him. At one point he was thrown down a cistern and left to die. We are told that, “Jeremiah sank in the mire” (Jer. 38:6). In many way this simple statement is a good description of Jeremiah’s entire ministry. He had to watch his beloved country overthrown and ravaged and his own people deported as spoils of war.

But it was the teaching of Jeremiah—the very teaching that the people had rejected—that enabled Judah to hold onto faith in Yahweh throughout the long years of exile. You see, the people had elevated their belief in the invincibility of Zion into a cardinal doctrine of their faith. And when Zion was destroyed, their whole belief system came crashing down. Hadn’t God promised them Jerusalem would not fall? Where was God when the Babylonian hordes ravaged their land?

But Jeremiah had insisted over and over that Zion’s invincibility was predicated upon obedience to the Mosaic Covenant, and because they had disobeyed the covenant, Zion would fall. God had not failed them by allowing Jerusalem to fall; they had failed God by disobeying his covenant. Finally, Jeremiah spoke the words of hope and restoration and pointed to a new covenant, a covenant written not on tablets of stone but on the fleshy tablets of their hearts. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my new law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jer. 31:33). It was Jeremiah’s tenacity to the truth of Yahweh that enabled the people of Judah to keep faith in God when all the confident words of the false prophets were revealed as spurious. 

Jeremiah reminds us that spiritual power sometimes looks like weakness. Faithfulness is more important than success, and the power to remain faithful is a great treasure indeed. Perhaps Jeremiah’s words to his servant Baruch is good counsel for us today, “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.” (Jer. 45:5).

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Excerpted from Chapter 11 of The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, “Creative Power,” pp. 198-199.

Foster, Richard J. 1985. The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power. New York: HarperOne. 

Image Credit: By Michelangelo - Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/…