15 October 2009

Brian's Thoughts: Letting Go

"God chose what is weak in the world..."


That is what I first thought when Bennett was rushed up to the NICU in Hillcrest immediately after Breck gave birth to him. Upon returning to the recovery room with no baby in tow, alone with our thoughts and hospital food, we began to fear for Bennett. We didn't know what was wrong. But whatever it was, I knew how to characterize it right away. Bennett was sickly, abnormal, his stomach disfigured. Weak.

My mind drifted quickly to this passage from 1 Corinthians. God chose what is weak. I began reading it to Breck, but I found my throat dry and my voice failing. I could not finish it without weeping.

Two weeks later, I sat in the office with our counselor, assuring him that I felt by this time very numb, far from the catharsis of those first hours. Breck would need to cry a little, I thought. She needed the release. But I still felt shell shocked. There would be no tears for me.

Until our counselor asked me to share some of my own thoughts. I brought up this passage and began to recite it from memory... and then my voice failed again. And I sobbed uncontrollably. And, when the moment had passed and I was able to reflect on it again, I realized I didn't really know why.

Funny thing, feelings. So ephemeral. Upon reflection, I think that, although all of what I had previously thought is true, my primary response was not one of fear and sorrow, but actually joy. Not joy that Bennett was sick, or was diagnosed with a horrible disease or that he will probably die early. Rather, joy because Bennett is an invitation.

The rest of the passage continues:

God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God... in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

A friend of mine, a pastor in a church where I once worked, wrote me recently after hearing about Bennett. He suffers from fairly severe arthritis and I think felt a special connection to Bennett's prognosis of a lifetime of suffering and medical interventions. He shared with me that, although his heart breaks for us and Bennett, he feels that in many ways Bennett will be blessed with an innate insight that many of us lack. Because Bennett will rely on the help of others to survive, he will be more readily apparent of his inherent need for God. Because Bennett is weak, he will be less likely to believe in his own self-sufficiency.

But the rub, and what I think my friend was after, is exactly where I am most affected: Bennett's weakness is not for himself alone.

It is judgment against people like me, 'normal' people susceptible to the blindness that comes from seeming self-sufficiency. God chooses what is weak in the world for the purpose of shaming the strong.

It is also mercy for people like me, an invitation to acknowledge my own weakness and be free from the the need to assert my own competence. God chooses what is weak in the world for the purpose of preventing boasting in God's presence and to replace it with the only proper realm for boasting: in God's own power.

Bennett's weakness is an invitation, a precious opportunity for me to let go of my own claim to having it all together so that I can, with him, celebrate the gift of life that God has bestowed on us both.

My tears are joy because I can, along with Bennett, let go.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What beautiful words and what a strong testament to your faith. I'm in awe of your thought-provoking response to what most would consider devastating. Most people don't take the time to process or fully understand when things like this happen. Because you are, you can better understand it and shape how you will respond.

    I sent this to Breck in an e-mail today and I'll share it with you as well, Brian. I think you and Breck are far too special to have an ordinary, "normal" life. Instead, God has given you this challenge, or opportunity, to be truly extraordinary. Just look at what has already happened - you are sharing your innermost thoughts about the situation, and, in turn, witnessing to the world how great God is. What a wonderful blessing.

    You're right - those of us who are 'normal' should be ashamed. It's way too easy to think we're self-sufficient and that we've got it all figured out. We don't. I can thank you, and Bennett, for that humbling reminder.

    We love you guys!

  3. Laura said exactly what I wanted to say, but better than I could. Thank you for your thoughts and your incredible insight, Brian. God is so very good.


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