I hear this phrase all the time. “If we bring our weaknesses to the Lord, he will make them strengths.” What does this mean? How does one’s weakness become a strength?
This is an excellent question. Thank you for submitting it.
One of the greatest men in Book of Mormon history had severe doubts as to his writing ability as he worked to record sacred events. That man was Moroni. He worried that people in future generations wouldn’t feel the power of the inspired messages. So he took it to the Lord and this is the response he got:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell had this to say:
“It is not an easy thing … to be shown one’s weaknesses. … Nevertheless, this is part of coming unto Christ, and it is a vital, if painful, part of God’s plan of happiness.”
Sister Anne C. Pingree told a story about a young woman who turned her weakness into a great strength:
A little girl named Jackie faced a devastating weakness that deeply affected her life—an inability to read. For years she experienced daily rejection and humiliation.
She said, “I was in second grade, and already I knew I was dumb. I just didn’t ever really catch on to reading.” Day after day and year after year the humiliation continued. Jackie said, “I was either told directly I was stupid or was asked, ‘Haven’t I already told you that a thousand times?’” She was labeled “lazy” and “a daydreamer.” Comments like these, she said, “caused me such emotional stress that it was like having a curtain drawn across my mind.” Being called upon to read aloud in class was excruciating. “Even when I knew the words, I could not say them,” she recalled. “Tears would well up in my eyes and blur the page.”
Soon Jackie learned to cover for her weakness or avoid situations that would reveal her dreaded secret. When she and her friends visited the local library, she followed their lead in checking out popular mystery books. But even though she carried the books home, she could never read them or join in her friends’ lively discussions about the characters and plots. She also found herself failing nearly every subject in school. Finally, at age 15, she decided to drop out of school and get married.
This decision could have led to more serious problems and a permanent detour from learning. Instead, through the loving, ongoing encouragement of her husband, the watchful care of the Lord, and her own determination, things began to change. “My husband has been my lifesaver,” she explained. “He always treated me like I was the smartest person he ever saw.” Many years later, this mother of eight children graduated from high school—one year before her eldest daughter.
Jackie continued her education beyond high school, but each day was a struggle. “I cried every day, it was so hard,” she said. Her husband gave her priesthood blessings, and a daughter tutored her in algebra, leaving her little notes of encouragement. In faith, Jackie turned to the Lord and prayed for His help. Finally, after years of effort, she received a college degree at age 50. Her weakness ultimately became a great strength as she pursued a career path that became a great blessing to others also struggling to read. The little girl who once thought she was too dumb to read now directs a statewide program that helps children with reading difficulties. Making Weak Things Become Strong.
Does Heavenly Father always take away our weaknesses and turn them into strengths? The answer would be no. Sometimes he leaves those weaknesses so that we can continually humble ourselves to work on them. Sometimes those weaknesses become strengths in other areas that we never anticipated. But it is through the grace of God that these changes take place.
Thomas S. Monson said:
“Should there be anyone who feels he is too weak to change the onward and downward course of his life, or should there be those who fail to resolve to do better because of that greatest of fears-the fear of failure-there is no more comforting assurance to be had than these words of the Lord: ‘My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.'” (Conference Report, Nov. 1999 Ensign, “Priesthood Power”)
Remember these 4 things or steps as you work on your own weakness:
- Acknowledge or admit your weakness.
- Develop humility
- Have an unwavering faith in God.
- Know that His grace is sufficient when you humble yourself before Him.