By Pr Ay Nee Ng
Wise Sayings about Two Earthen Vessels
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house”.
The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house”.
Weak and Flawed
Each of us has our own unique flaw. Some may be easily recognisable; some, not so recognisable. We all have flaws and weaknesses, but they each make our lives so interesting and rewarding. In the end, we need to embrace our weaknesses, to steadily move on for a change, and to understand that someone can use our weakness and flaws for the good of others. That someone is Jesus Christ our Lord. Church, if we are to imitate Christ, then you and I just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them, cracks and all.
Many of us may have experience some sort of weakness, whether in one form or another, or never felt good enough, especially at work, when we are not able to perform as how our predecessors did or how we should, or when we feel inadequately equipped to do a certain task assigned to us. Even to some, the thought of parenthood or sharing the Good News can be daunting, especially if we find we are not as equipped in the Word or have a fear of public speaking that makes us weak in our knees and inadequate to handle the situation. I remember an incident when we asked a group of elderly prominent people to pray in public. They were giants in their field of expertise, but when we asked them to pray, they felt weak.
Do you ever feel too weak or inadequate to be useful to God? Who can turn that weakness or flaw into an object of beauty? Paul found this to be true in his weakness in 2 Corinthians 3:4-5. “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God…”
Another such person is David. As David takes up the throne of Israel he says, “… though I am the anointed king, I am weak” (2 Sam. 3:39). The moment you put your faith in Jesus, God anoints you with the Holy Spirit as Ephesians 3:16 says: “That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…” However weak and inadequate or flawed we may feel, God can use you and I, like David, Paul, and Peter, in extraordinary ways. Even in our weakness, there is great strength as we look to God. God anoints His chosen. Do you believe that it is you?
God does not look at our eloquence, our charisma, our prestigious background, our money, or our position in the world; He looks at our heart, our nature, and our ability to be humbled and to look to Him as our source of help. David was chosen, not his brothers, and anointed among his brothers to be king.
As Paul says in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. If I were to ask you: “How’s the weather gauge these few days?” You would answer, “Pretty accurate”. We just experienced the storm of our life that ripped through Collaroy, the town Picton, and part of Coogee and Bondi beach. What devastation it caused! Don’t the storms in our lives cause some kind of struggles and destruction too? You can’t turn the clock backwards. There are going to be changes. The question is: How soon can we adapt to change? Remember, we are in the worst position in our lives—weak and flawed!
Now if I ask you: “How’s your spiritual gauge?” What would you say? Let’s find out from Psalm 69:1-3, 13-21, 22-28, 29-33.
Are you going through a time of trials and trouble? David was in a time of deep trouble in his life. He felt like he was in a “swamp” (v. 15), a “Black Hole” (v. 15), a “deathtrap” (v. 18). He says: “I’m… flat on my face, reduced to a nothing” (Ps. 69:20, MSG). The New King James Version reads: “Reproach has broken my heart and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none”.
Can we relate to this? Don’t we just want some encouragement, some caring and loving kindness, and someone to ride with us? Here in SGC, we have been riding with you. Don’t the storms in our lives affect our sleep, our eating, our emotions, and our life? The situation does not get any better; we find ourselves down in the dumps, instate of encouragement and friendship, or under scrutiny, left aside, and being unpopular. Worst of all, we may find ourselves unsociable, unreasonable, and unacceptable in our views to some.
David, the anointed leader of Israel (2 Sam. 5:3), many times felt weak and inadequate to deal with situations in his life, but he wouldn’t allow his enemies to get the better of him. What do you think he did? What was his trump card? He would call out to God. He was a person of prayer. Many of the psalms are attributed to him. In this psalm, we see an example of his honest, raw emotions and intimate prayers (Ps. 69:22-28).
What Can We Do When We Are in Trouble or in a Position of Great Weakness?
1. Know God’s great love for you. David prayed: “In your great love, O God, answer me” (Ps. 69:13). “Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me” (v. 16).
Paul prayed: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
2. Cry out—an urgent plea—to God in your heart to God. Don’t just have someone pray for you, but get “alone time” with God—one-on-one and heart-to heart with God. Get into your prayer room; there is a war zone out there. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
3. Be honest with and humble before God. Tell him what you are really feeling: “Deliver [rescue] me from the mire, do not let me sink. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble” (vv. 14, 17). In Psalm 69, David also tells God what He should do to those who are his enemies (we are like that too).
Pray like this: Lord, thank you that I can pray to you in times of trouble. Lord, today I cry to you for help. Thank you. In Christ Jesus’ name. Amen.
As Isaiah 40:29-31 says: “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”.
In the end, we can be confident in our Lord to save and deliver us from our weakness (Ps. 71:6).
We are many, yet I am one. But one can do mighty things for God. Never under estimate yourself and what God can do in you.
A teenager from Cumbria in Northern England felt God calling him. Patrick was poorly educated, in-eloquent, and faced significant opposition throughout his ministry from those who felt that he wasn’t up to the task. Even as an old man he still admitted, “Today I still blush and fear more than anything to have my lack of learning brought out into the open”.
Yet, despite all his disadvantages, Patrick remained convinced that God had called and anointed him as an evangelist. He wrote, “We are a letter of Christ for salvation even to the back of beyond–and what does it matter if it is not a learned letter? For it is still to be found valid and plain for all to read, written in your very hearts, not in ink, but by the Spirit of the living God!”
Today his more eloquent contemporaries have long been forgotten, but the impact of St Patrick’s ministry and mission to Ireland 1,500 years ago is still recognised around the world. Even his weakness was anointed.
Church, we have all come a long way in our journey of life. Some still feel that they are not worth their salt or adequately equipped in life. But in the end of the day, the real question is:
Who do we put our trust on?
When things are not going right, when people undermine our authority, or when we reach a breaking point, let us turn to God. Let us reach out to Him now, and He will turn our weaknesses into strengths and equip us by the power of His Holy Spirit. Let us continue to keep our focus on Him.
May I invite all you who are weary and heavy-laden with the cares of this world and you who for some reason have been told that you are good for nothing to raise your hand, and I will pray for you.