Advent, bonus week // Starting weak 

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a weird one for me. The magic of December is quickly outpaced by the incoming grind of January and the pressure to “start the year off strong.”

But there was one final thought from the book of Habakkuk that I wanted to share as a bookend to this mini Advent series and to kickstart a new year.

We don’t have to fear weakness.

I can’t count the number of times recently I’ve received an email, watched a commercial or read a blog that encouraged me to “start the new year off strong.” As someone who works in nonprofit marketing, I think I’ve written that a few times in marketing emails. And the intention behind encouraging us to start strong can be so good.

But the temptation is to start the new year in our own strength, which will fail us, discourage us and undoubtedly exhaust us. If there’s anything the past few years have taught us, it’s that no matter how “strong” we intend to start the year, we really have no clue what curveballs will be thrown our way.

So, what if we started weak? What if instead of striving in our own strength, we focused on the ways the Lord might work through our weakness this year? What if instead of emphasizing strength, we embraced surrender?

The book of Habakkuk started with a focus on Habakkuk’s helplessness but ended with a newfound reliance on God’s strength. From the first verses (“how long, Lord, must I call for help?”) to the last (“the Sovereign Lord is my strength”), we see how Habakkuk’s weakness made space for God’s strength. A story that began with a question ended with a realization that the Lord alone was his strength – not his control over circumstances nor his own willpower and determination.

Same too goes for us. 2 Corinthians 12 reminds us it is in our weakness that we are strong because God’s power is made perfect in weakness. So, while the goal is to start the year strong – and I hope in a way that we do – may we remember it is actually in our weakness that God’s strength shines through most vividly. And may that set us free from the pressure of relying on our own imperfect strength this year.

Cheers to starting strong by not being afraid to start weak. For when we are weak, then we are strong. Happy New Year!

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