But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
Thoughts of recent cultural attacks on my faith swirl in my mind as I type. The birds at the feeders outside my window provide a diversion. At the edge of my desk, my cat snoozes. She keeps a half-opened eye to watch the birds, but if I’m not looking, she’ll steal a sip of my coffee.
Air temperatures are warm, so I raise the window to distract her. The world expands from sight to smells and sounds. A frightened spider inside the screen scurries away leaving its homespun tapestry fluttering in the breeze. An alarmed chorus precedes an eruption of feathered creatures from the center of a bush below. An edgy, punk-rock cardinal, fresh from the birdbath, lands in the top of the bush, feathers askew. His voice of protest adds to the fray, while a twittering hummer zooms in for an eye-to-eye standoff with the cat. Only a fragile screen separates feathers from fur.
Only a thin veneer of grace protects me from the things I fear. This invisible barrier is sheer enough for me to fully experience life in all its dimensions—love, joy, loss, and pain, while providing the protection my faith needs. Sometimes my faith is assaulted by circumstances, enemies within and without, and I wonder if the protective covering is strong enough to hold. Sometimes my faith seems as delicate as a spider’s web, but then I remember that faith only grows when it’s tested. And a spider’s web is not as fragile as it seems. Scientists have calculated that a web of these gossamer threads only as thick as a pencil would be able to stop a Boeing 747 airliner in flight. Because of their tensile strength, spider webs have even been used by the military to make parachutes and bullet proof vests.
Sometimes delicate appearances can be deceiving. Faith is not a fluffy feeling. It’s an ironclad decision to trust God, especially when we cannot see, because of the grace that we have seen. Only when we do, can we discover just how strong faith really is. Now might be a good time to try.
And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms... Ephesians 1:19-20 (NIV)
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