We often look at those who are facing addiction, despair, marital crisis, and the like as “less strong” in their faith.
I learned a long time ago that the healthiest people are not those who appear to be free from struggles but those who face their “demons” head on. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall. God is opposed to the proud but gives graces to the humble.
Or to say it as it has become common around my house: if dependence is the goal, then weakness is an advantage.
The healthiest and wisest people I know (according to Scripture) are those who know how vulnerable they are and who refuse to be defined by their struggles, failures, or the guilt and shame that so often accompanies them. At Watermark, let me tell you how this plays out, and how it completely busts the myth about who is healthy and who is not. Every Monday evening, an amazing group of individuals gather on our campuses for something we call re:generation. ReGen, as it is commonly called, is a Christ-centered discipleship ministry that presents itself as a recovery ministry, inviting anyone in our city to find freedom from struggles, whatever they may be. Codependency, anger, pornography, chemical dependency, eating disorders, depression, abuse, same-sex struggles. Bring it.
Early in this ministry’s development, the leadership—many of whom came out of “anonymous” recovery ministries or churches who stigmatized being “poor in spirit” instead of honoring it as the first thing that leads to blessing—was adamant about the idea that we needed to clear the campus thirty minutes before it started so that “these people” could come and be free from the concern that others might see them coming to a ministry where they could deal with their deepest hurts and brokenness. Without outright saying it (or maybe even meaning it), they were insinuating that we needed to segregate the hurting and broken from the “strong” and more qualified believers who were seemingly not struggling (at least not openly) with such “shameful” and “guilt-producing” issues.
I, along with the rest of the elders, felt that it was time we made a strong statement about who we were as God’s people. It was time to step on the throat of the perception that being a person desperately in need of God’s grace and healing was something to be ashamed of. No, it was something all of us needed to publicly admire. We told our friends leading ReGen that if their group was the only place at Watermark where those who were “in distress or discontented” could feel welcome, we needed to shut down every other ministry until each one was as welcoming and authentic as ReGen.
We needed to let people know that every aspect of our ministry existed for the “weary and heavy laden.” If all Watermark was good for was to reach the unbroken and “un-needy,” then we weren’t being the Church Jesus had in mind. Finally, I reminded them that I didn’t know anyone who was unbroken or “un-needy” enough to not need Jesus—and even if they thought they were, I was not interested in providing a place for them. Rather, I was interested in helping them see how desperate they really were.