About a month or two ago my good friend and fellow disciple Tadayoshi Aikawa asked me if I would be willing to contribute to the Fukuinshi. The Fukuinshi (福音誌) is a small magazine/booklet circulated throughout the Churches of Christ in Japan. Aikawa-san (or Tad as many of us foreigners call him) asked me to write an article that would appear as the preface to the June 2019 issue. Since I know most people who see this website won’t ever see that edition of the Fukuinshi (or any edition, for that matter), I wanted to share an English translation, which I hope will be an encouragement to you.
Strength In Weakness: Fukuinshi Preface
Whenever I first came to the Matsudo Church, I could not really speak any Japanese. Since I had worked for a year at a Japanese kindergarten, I had learned some simple phrases like “katazukemashou!” (“let’s put our things away!) However, as you might imagine, that’s not very useful for everyday life. So, after moving to Matsudo, I studied hard and slowly gained the ability to speak Japanese. However, I still cannot speak it like I can my own language. In order to clearly communicate in Japanese, I need time to think about what I’m going to say.
While my inability to communicate fully in Japanese can be frustrating, it also has some good points. Here in America, I’m typically thought of as a fairly opinionated person. I can speak freely in English, so I can also quickly communicate any thought that comes to my mind. That isn’t possible for me in Japanese, so sometimes my Japanese friends will say, “you’re such a good listener!” That might be the case in Japanese, but it’s only because I can’t respond quickly enough! My stupidity actually makes me look wise. Indeed, my weakness becomes a strength.
In the Bible, many people became strong through their weaknesses. Sarah was 90 years old when she became pregnant with Isaac. Although David was but a young shepherd, he managed to defeat Goliath. Most of the apostles were simple fishermen. Clearly, God often uses weak people in his work!
The same is true today. There are many weak people in the church of Jesus Christ. This is not an accident – it is part of God’s plan! Consider the words of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
The work of Christ’s Kingdom does not rely on the power of man; it relies on the power and wisdom of God alone. In order to show this, God calls many weak people to his work. We are the evidence of God’s power.
Thus, while our weaknesses may feel like a curse, in Jesus Christ they are, in fact, God’s grace to us. They are an opportunity for us to become humble and rely on God. In the world, weakness is an obstacle to success, but in God’s Kingdom, it is a condition for success. Whenever you are acutely feeling your weaknesses, please remember that! As the apostle Paul also said:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Cor. 4:7