Most of us have probably heard the infamous quote that Uncle Ben advised Peter Parker when he discovered the teenager had supernatural powers and became Spiderman. He urged, “With great power comes great responsibility.” That insight helped Peter understand that his newfound strength and abilities should be used to help others…not to be squandered or utilized for personal gain.
God has gifted all of his children with talents and abilities that should be used to serve one another in this world. And the Bible is full of verses that teach us how to do so.
So then, what does 2 Corinthians 12:9 mean when Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness?” Paul responds to that by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Why would God give us each different gifts and talents, but then want us to be excited about our shortcomings?
I’ve often wondered why God allowed me to have Sensory Processing Disorder. The neurological disability has created numerous challenges for me throughout my life. Simple things like being in a crowd of people or making a phone call can be overwhelming or even painful at times. And working in an open office environment honestly makes me want to jump out the window or impale myself on a sword…were it not for my noise cancelling headphones. But rather than regard my SPD as a cruel disability, I’ve finally learned that it can be quite a blessing.
Last year I felt called to join a prison ministry because I knew I could relate to people who had made poor life decisions. On the way to my first event, I heard stories about how noisy it can be inside the jail with loud slamming metal doors and the swarm of inmates. I got nervous and began to doubt God’s calling and prayed, “Why would you lead me to do something so difficult and even painful?” I knew from over forty years of experience that it was going to require a miracle for me to listen and communicate effectively in the challenging environment I was going into.
As I stepped inside the concrete world behind rows of razor wire, I heard numerous voices reverberating together against the cold floors and walls. My spine began to writhe in discomfort. I felt dizzy with anxiety as my brain struggled to process the overwhelming sensory data. Every instinct in my body told me to run, but I couldn’t. So I prayed, “God, please help me. I need to focus. I’m beyond weak. I’m broken. I’m scared. I’m relying on you completely. I can’t do this!!!”
Then something really cool happened. The moment I started sharing the Gospel with inmates, I experienced tunnel vision and the chaotic environment that surrounded me suddenly melted away. My fear and insecurity completely dissipated, and I felt an overwhelming compassion and mercy for each one of the prisoners. And miraculously, the perfect words of encouragement flowed from my mouth, which they seemed captivated by. At one point I even thought, This is incredible, as if I were watching the exchange from outside myself.
Now please understand, I have been told by more than a few people that I lack empathy and focus during conversations, so I was astonished. Then I witnessed another miracle when two convicted murderers and a child molester repented of their sins and asked God for forgiveness. My life was forever changed that day, as well as the prisoners, because God was powerful enough to work through a girl like me to bring hope to the women who were locked inside a world of shame.
James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I finally understand this verse. It’s in times when I am weak that God demonstrates His power. And when I am destitute that He miraculously provides. And when I ‘m mocked and ridiculed that He vindicates, defends and comforts me. He allows challenges in my life so that I learn to trust Him. I no longer doubt myself when He calls me to do something outside of my comfort zone. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to experience Him in a truly amazing way. And those moments really are pure joy.