The Power of Healthy Inadequacy

2He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,

a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

 Isaiah 53:2-3 NIV

 

My personal opinion is that Jesus Christ did not look like Jim Caviezel (the actor who portrayed him in the movie “The Passion of the Christ”).  He did not have a charismatic physical presence that would have automatically drawn people to him.  He definitely did not possess the beauty that has been portrayed in the various paintings and drawings over the centuries.  The passage above is clear that physically he was nondescript and not physically attractive.  His appearance was what we would today describe as that belonging to a “nobody”.  Ironically, this is the same quality that would have probably drawn the crowds to him.  He did not have the appearance of one in authority, yet he spoke and acted with authority.  He did not have the academic pedigree of the teachers of his day, yet he taught powerfully.  He seemed to be a manifestation of all that is possible when physical inadequacy is buoyed by Holy Spirit power.

For many of us our handicaps, as defined by the world’s standards, can sometimes be debilitating.  Sometimes we think we don’t possess the necessary captivating beauty, the speaking presence, the all-encompassing knowledge or the spiritual pedigree that ensures spiritual success.  We only need to be reminded of the various shortcomings of biblical and contemporary figures.  In the Old Testament, Abraham was a liar.  Jacob was a manipulator.  Joseph was a braggart. Moses was a murderer.  Samson must not have had an imposing figure (why then would he be asked four times, the secret of his strength (Judges 16:15-17)?).  Gideon was a coward.  Saul was insecure.  David was an adulterer. Job was a legalist.  Jonah was petulant.  In the New Testament, with the exception of Matthew, the apostles were uneducated and simple men.  The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was a pharisaic know-it-all who sanctioned murder.  In our time, Martin Luther King Jr. suffered with depression for much of his life.  Billy Graham was once told that all he could amount to would be a “poor Baptist country preacher out in the sticks.” 

Unhealthy inadequacy results from the comparison that we make against others.  We find ourselves lacking in qualities and characteristics that others seem to possess.  We feel envy and process feelings of inferiority.  Healthy inadequacy, on the other hand, results from our assessment of the resources we possess (or don’t) in contrast to the task we face.  We see the obvious gap and are unable to fathom any outcome that will result in positive accomplishment.  The result is an upward gaze that asks for supernatural empowerment.  If the individuals in the previous paragraph had been overcome by unhealthy inadequacy, their names would not be historical.  They acknowledged their shortcomings and inabilities and moved forward anyway.

So, I ask you this question.  What does your current state of inadequacy have to do with your future state of service to Christ, your community or work environment?  If God could use all of these people, can’t he also use you?  If there are places where you struggle with a sense of deficiency, share them with someone you trust.  If necessary, seek counseling.  Ask for support as you walk firmly, with faith, into the future and calling that God has prepared for you.


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