Inadequacies Are Good, Inadequate Hopes Are Dangerous
It seems that being inadequate is inherent to human nature. Whether or not we wish to admit it, all of us are plagued with limitations and shortcomings. This may be haunting news in a self-esteem culture driven by the need to convince its people we can do anything. Scripture, on the other hand, sees human limitation as a divine blessing that leads to humility. Paul keeps the Corinthian Church in check by reminding them that pride has no place in the Church because every aspect of life, whether knowledge or talent, is a result of divine blessing: “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). As a Christian, I am freed from believing the lie that I am sufficient for the needs of the day, and instead, any skill or fact I do possess is a great gift from above.
But as I begin a new stage in life, inadequacy is a daily reminder. New rhythms and challenges highlight limitations and fears. Looking back can lead to longing for familiarity while looking ahead breeds thoughts of risks and challenges. How would the Lord respond to those of us as we are confronted with the realities of our shortcomings? This topic always reminds me of Moses and the counterculture response he receives from God.
Moses, called to lead Israel out of Egypt, haunted by the task appeals to God “Oh, my Lord I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). The American response to this might be, “You can do this” or “You’re so gifted” or “You can do anything you set your mind to.” God makes no such false promises. In fact, he doesn’t even attempt to deny that Moses is limited in the way he is acknowledging. Even more amazing is God’s response to Moses: “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:11). God’s response is essentially, “Duh. I already knew this about you Moses. Am I not the one who made you like this?” God is NOT shocked when we are inadequate for the tasks we are given because it is his JOY to be our hope. In other words, God delights to highlight the emptiness of hoping in ourselves so that we would look to the great hope we have in Him!
Here is the great news: Being inadequate is a reality to be embraced not feared. Being inadequate does not mean we are without hope. And more importantly, being inadequate means hoping in ourselves is foolish. Lastly, God has made us inadequate so that we would walk with a greater hope in mind: Him. So let us rejoice in our inadequacies today. They are a great mercy to keep us from looking to ourselves for salvation and success. Rather, look to Him who is eager to supply grace and power in our times of need.
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me – Psalm 50:15