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)
As I ran across this scripture recently and how it invites us to come to Christ in humility about our weaknesses to be made strong , it occurred to me that this may be a doctrine and invitation given nowhere else. I thought it might be interesting to do a survey of the scriptures to see what we are told elsewhere about weakness and being made strong.
Here’s what I found.
Ether 12:28 -- God will show the Gentiles their weakness and that faith, hope, and charity will bring them to God.
Ether 12:37 -- God tells Moroni he will be made strong because he has seen his weakness. (This tells us noticing our weakness is the first step toward being made strong, but the next steps are not there because they were given in Ether 12:27.)
Alma 58:37 -- Helaman trusts the Lord will deliver his people notwithstanding the weakness of their armies. (We can see Helaman is applying the principles of faith in Christ and humility in a military context, but we need to know it works in other contexts too.)
D&C 1:24 -- Commandments are given to God’s servants in their weakness so they can come to understanding. (And probably trying to follow commandments shows us our weakness pretty quick..)
Jacob 4:7 – God shows men their weaknesses so they know only by His power and condescension can they do miracles.
D&C 62:1 -- Christ knows the weaknesses of men and how to succor those who are tempted.
Hebrews 4:15-16 -- Christ can be touched with our infirmities, so we can boldly come to Him and obtain grace to help at time of need. (This gets pretty close to Ether 12:27, but the humility and faith in Christ are implied rather than explicitly stated.)
Hebrews 3:21-- Prophets and great men were made strong out of their weakness. (This tells us others enjoyed the blessing of being made strong in their weakness, but it doesn’t tell us about how.)
2 Nephi 3:21 -- God will make the weakness of the Nephites’ words to their brethren strong in their faith. (This shows us the principles of faith in Christ and humility can be applied in the context of writing about the gospel for others. But it isn’t explicit about the humility needed.)
2 Nephi 33:44 -- Nephi has faith that the words he has written in weakness will be made strong to his people.
D&C 38:14 -- The Lord will be merciful to our weakness.
So it seems that other scriptures have pieces of this doctrine and invitation, Ether 12:27 shares it most clearly. It gives us confidence that humility in our weaknesses and taking them to the Lord in faith will allow the Lord to strengthen us.
I also notice, that the other scriptures expand on the doctrine and give examples of different ways prophets have been made strong. Nephi and Moroni both had their words made strong. Helaman had his armies made strong. Jacob was able to do miracles.
Today when we notice our weaknesses, let’s take them straight to the Lord for His help. Let’s find out how the Lord can strengthen us.