Sometimes God allows trials that feel like a spiritual hammer. (Pixabay)

God uses nobodies for Jesus. That's the theme of my book by the same title, but even I forget that truth. All of us so lean toward pride and ego that it's hard for us to remember that the feeble, the humble, the weak—nobodies—fit perfectly into God's plan. Here are some ways that God weakens us or keeps us weak for His glory.

  1. He allows Satan to put thorns in our life. Paul faced that issue (2 Cor. 12:7-10). We don't know what his thorn was (I think it was a physical ailment), but we do know that it caused continual anguish. God refused to take it away, though, so Paul would stay humble before Him.
  2. He requires us to give our life if necessary for the gospel. Stephen followed God fully, and that calling cost him his life. Not only did he stay faithful even as he was stoned, but he also prayed for his murderers (Act 7:54-60). Knowing that our faith may cost us our lives should keep us prayerful and humble.
  3. He allows Satan to hammer us. It was God who put the bulls-eye on Job's back even when Job was a righteous, faithful man. Yet in his brokenness after he lost everything but his wife, Job still worshipped God (Job 1:20-21).
  4. He allows bad so that He might bring about good. Looking back on the unjust actions of his brothers followed by his unwarranted imprisonment in Egypt, Joseph saw the hand of God sovereignly working through the evil (Gen. 50:19-21). Stuck in a prison cell and in a position of inability, Joseph trusted God in his weakness. 
  5. He allows our sin to bring us to the end of ourselves. God is never, never pleased with our sin, but He does allow us to live out our choices to bring us to brokenness. Peter came to that point when he wept over his denying Jesus (Luke 22:61-62). David hit that same bottom after his sin with Bathsheba (Ps. 51). This weakness is the saddest kinds of weakness, for we pay a price for our sinful choices. 
  6. He places us in tough situations among difficult people. Moses faced it at times. Joshua encountered it. The prophets recurrently dealt with it. Paul served in the midst of it. Even Jesus ministered to stubborn men, including one who would deny Him and another who would betray Him. Tough ministries with troublesome people keep us weakly on our knees before the Father.

Some of the best leaders I know can talk about a time when God weakened them. What about you?

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This article originally appeared at

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