Focus 1 (of 5)-I am Weak

Focus 1 | I Am Weak

In order for the weak to say “I am strong,” they must first say “I am weak.”
Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.
What show do you remember most from your childhood?
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 1" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Take this quiz to find your Spirit Weakling.
Ever heard someone say they have a “spirit animal?” Usually they pick an eagle or tiger or something awesome. Imagine that, except the animal is awful (and possibly more accurate…)

Welcome Perspective

Watch this video about a very small offering from an insignificant person.
Would that the widow of Mark 12 could be your spirit weakling. She’s amazing.

You can tell she’s amazing by the way Jesus talks about her, and celebrates her, and takes time to help others notice her. This isn’t the only time Jesus gives special focus to the weakest, and that isn’t an accident.

Jesus knows something most people have a hard time accepting: weakness isn’t failure, and strength isn’t success. In fact, one of the things God celebrates the most, faith (which the widow showed beautifully in this story) is often considered a crutch for the weak. 

And it is. The weak need it—desperately. For example, scroll down to see how important it is to the person who wrote the 38th Psalm.

Read through Psalm 38 and count: how many ways does the psalmist describe being in bad shape?
If you’re doing this in a group, choose a volunteer to read the Psalm for everyone. As they do, count the depictions of weakness and highlight the one that is most impactful to you. You can do this digitally or go analog—go with whichever note-taking method fits you.

A psalm of David. A petition.

1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.

5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.

9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they scheme and lie.

13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”

17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause;
those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
lodge accusations against me,
though I seek only to do what is good.

21 Lord, do not forsake me;
do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Savior.

See if you counted the same us?

Listen to this song based on the Psalm we just read—Psalm 38.
Worship Perspective

Kids, watch this video about Gideon.
Read about how it went when God called Gideon in Judges 6:

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Here are some things to notice:

  • When Gideon says, “Pardon me, my Lord…”—it’s the equivalent of saying “With all due respect…” and having ZERO due respect.
  • What kind of strength does God tell Gideon to “go in” in vs 14? 
  • Explain Gideon’s response in vs 15. 
  • How does God counter him in vs 16? 
Explore this interactive experience about journeying into weakness.
Click the arrow in the frame below to begin navigating through the experience.

Start to consider spiritual assessment.
Being able to say “I am weak” is a form of spiritual assessment, or of taking stock of your own spiritual situation. As it happens, counselors and psychologists have developed many tools for spiritual assessment. In this series, you’ll have the chance to learn about a few, but for today, a brief primer.

Divide and conquer to work through this task. Read each of the sections of the paper “Pastoral Care: A New Model for Assessing the Spiritual Needs of Hospitalized Patients” included below. (If you’re in a group, have different group members read different sections and summarize for the rest of the group.)

Learn Perspective

Read this case study of a spiritual assessment in action.
(If you’re in a group, have two people read this interview together.)

C 1. (I stood at the end of the bed as I introduced myself) Mrs. Haines?

P 1. Yes?

C 2. I'm a Chaplain. 6 West is a part of the hospital where I routinely visit patients. I'm here to say hello and to see how you are doing.

P 2. I'm not doing very well. I have emphysema, diabetes, and a heart condition. I can't breathe. I can't even get from here (her bed) to there (the portable toilet that was next to her bed) without help.

C 3. It must be very frustrating for you.

P 3. Yes, it is. I am not able to care for myself. You must see a lot of people who never leave here. Most people who come here die. I'm not going to leave here. I have to use the toilet. Will you wait while I use it? I would really like you to stay for a while. (She buzzed the nurse.)

C 4. I'll be happy to wait. (The nurse came in to help her.) I'll be back when you are finished. (I left for a brief period of time and returned.)

P 4. Thank you for coming back.

C 5. Would you like to talk about why you feel you are not going to leave here?

P 5. I can't breathe. I have so many health problems and they seem to be getting worse. My doctor said that he doesn't know what else to do for me. I need full-time care now and my daughter and son-in-law both work.

C 6. Do you live with them?

P 6. Yes. They can't take care of me. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want to give up.

C 7. Is it possible to hire someone to help care for you?

P 7. I suppose, but I need someone all the time.

C 8. Could someone come in during the day and your daughter and son-in-law take over when they get home?

P 8. Yes. That would work, but I don't want to spend all of my daughter's inheritance on someone to care for me. I suppose I could do it for a year or so. I doubt if I'll live much longer than that. I need to talk to my daughter. Will you come back after I talk to her and help me decide what to do?

C 9. Yes. I will come back. I feel that you need to decide what is best for you but I will be more than happy to listen and help you figure it out.

Discuss this question: What is your initial assessment? (You’ll get better as the series continues.)
Check out our new, series-long partnership.

Throughout January, Illume is partnering with Seattle Parents of Preemies. As you consider “letting the weak say I am strong” this month, please add preemies and their parents to your prayers.

Supporting families whose premature newborns are in the NICU is a vital part of community.

+ Check out this article on the need for volunteers to simply hold them!
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective

Engage in prayer through this guided, meditative prayer video.
(Press play, listen, follow along, meditate, pray, repeat.)
Let's start to wind down with this song by The Response Band.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective

Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.

Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.                          

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