Can something beautiful come from something desolate? Certainly. Beauty can be found in everything. The beauty that exists in the ugliness of life’s happenings is a great paradox. In understanding God we learn to find joy in suffering, fulfillment in denial, and life in death. In understanding faith for what it really is, one must conclude that it’s paradoxical. God created it this way so we would learn to live in the tension of “what is” and “what is to be.”
I’m a realist, which means I’m only interested in what works. I am so pragmatic that I often catch myself railing against idealism. Ideals don’t work in the real world, it’s too messy. God is too mysterious for us to figure everything out. Neat packaging and systematized concepts about God don’t work as it pertains to God. Besides we wouldn’t need faith if everything made sense.
What is a paradox? Jesus is the God-man. By losing our life we save it. God is sovereign, yet we are responsible. Confessing weakness as a source of strength. The Church is a house and a city, an army and a bride, and a building and a body. I believe God intends for these concepts to shape our thinking beyond the typical human experience.
God functions from a place of paradox because of the vastness of his nature. His ways are not our ways and his thoughts are radically different from our own (Isaiah 55:8-9). Therefore, he is not seeking a influential group of people to represent him. Instead he’s looking for people who are weak, despised, and written off. Only then does he inhabit them with strength.
One can only come to Jesus by realizing they are needy. In other words, we must come to grips with our vulnerability. This is where we discover that all of God’s dealings with us are to create maximum dependence on him. Times when things are functioning well, we often stop relying on God. It would be God’s nature to push us out of those comfortable places and into a bit of turbulence so that we will learn to trust him all the more.
God calls us to the impossible. Think about it. He demands that we see the invisible and calls it faith. He often thrusts us into overwhelming situations and expects us to trust him. Think about it: Noah built a mammoth ship when there was no body of water large enough for it to float. Moses rescued more than a million people from the bondage of the most cruel and oppressive government of the day. Joshua was ordered to seize the most fortified city of the world by ordering a week of silence followed by a single shout. These instances no doubt created insecurity in these great leaders. They saw the natural and didn’t understand how it would work. Their only option was to trust God.
God works in paradox by making vulnerability powerful. We don’t equate weakness with power, but God does. These leaders didn’t give in to insecurity, but they did give in to vulnerability. They were weak but willing. They were weary but faithful. They believed the unbelievable and it became so.
We too often see our own smallness rather than the magnificence of God. Like the Israelites before entering the Promised-Land said, “We are like grasshoppers…” Such people are prevented from achieving breakthroughs because they cannot translate their weakness into power. Insecurity cripples people, but vulnerability knows that God is happy to send us out as sheep among wolves because he is certain of his own ability to work in spite of our weakness.
When we are vulnerable we see our inadequacies in light of God’s sovereignty and in turn we discover faith and hope. The whole point of vulnerability is to bring us to a place of restful dependence in a God that is able to do anything… and I mean absolutely anything!
My prayer is to be more vulnerable, to stop trying to make sense of everything God wants to accomplish in my life. It’s not my place to make sense of it all; it’s my place to trust God. It may mean stepping out on a limb that looks like it’s going to break. It may look like running face first into a hurricane. It doesn’t matter. Discovering the will of God for my life and being vulnerable in my faith means not looking back, but only looking ahead and believing that God makes all things possible. In the tension of paradox is where we find God.
(Sources: Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton; Soren Kierkegaard)