A couple weeks ago my daughter was out in the yard taking pictures. Later that evening she asked if she could use my computer. She left behind a picture of a ladybug on my desktop. This was no ordinary ladybug. You could tell she’d been through something because she had a dent on her back a "chink in her armor". For the past week every time I sat down at my desk or returned to my desktop I saw this ladybug with the chink in her armor. I found myself wondering how she got it. Was she in a fight? Did she fall to the ground from some unusual height? Did another animal attack her? I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like to get that chink. Did it hurt? Did she see it coming? Did she provoke it? Does she experience pain or suffering now because of the chink. I feel compassion for the ladybug. I even wonder what my children did with the ladybug when they found it. Did they flick her off the leaf after they captured the picture? Did they pick her up and hold her? Did they do anything to cause her more suffering? I catch myself wanting to reach out to the ladybug. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. I can relate to the ladybug with the chink in her armor. Her imperfection is right out in front. All who meet her see it right away. Some even define her by it. Some discount her because of it.
This morning when sat down at my desk I realized just how much I am like that ladybug, maybe you are too. Most of us have gone through something that gave us a chink in our armor. Some chinks are more visible than others. Some are physical. Scars. The loss of a limb. Hair lost to chemotherapy. Imperfections in our appearance. Some are less conspicuous. Emotional or mental. Mistakes. Bad choices that brought years of suffering. Job loss. Loved ones lost to death. Divorce. False accusations. Damaged reputation. Wounds inflicted by someone we once trusted. Now, maybe we limp. Maybe, we have a chink in our armor.
My son used to take karate. He had a list of Black Belt Principles. They were things like Respect, Patience, Perseverance, etc. One principle stuck out to me more than any other. It was an Indomitable Spirit. In other words, you can’t be broken. At least not permanently. Kind of like Chuck Norris. No matter what happens and against all odds you keep coming back. I can’t think about chinked up armor without thinking about an Indomitable Spirit. It’s important not to allow the difficulties that maim and scar us to stop us. We must press onward. We love it when we see it depicted in the movies. Braveheart. Gladiator. Troy. Just a few that come to mind. The hero is virtually unstoppable. Whether blows to his armor or swords to his flesh he fights to the death for what he believes in. I want to be like that. Don’t you? The grand benefit we have is that we don’t have to be strong in and of ourselves. God says to Paul and to us that in your weaknesses, in the very things that threaten to disqualify you, My power and strength are made perfect. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Paul even says that for Christ’s sake he will delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. Because when he is weak, then he is strong. That in his weakness Christ’s power may rest on him. I haven’t reached the place where I delight in my weaknesses. But I am grateful that it is exactly in those places that the power of Christ is made perfect in me. Because at the end of the day I could never be powerful or strong enough in those places nor in the places of my strengths to compare to the perfect power of God. Jesus takes the chink in my armor and shows himself strong through it. I love that! Paul said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
The other aspect I can’t help but consider when I think about imperfections, weaknesses, chinks in armor is how we view these things in one another. Do we become part of the problem or part of the solution. Do we judge or love? Do we find ourselves among those who pick up stones to throw or with Jesus refusing to condemn? All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. It also reminds me of Job. His friends were quick to diagnose him and his relationship with God and give him remedies. All the while none of them aware of the Throne Room scene between God and Satan in which God, so confident of Job’s faithfulness that he points him out to the enemy. And when the enemy declares that Job is only faithful because of God’s favor and protection over his life God allows him to attack Job. Thus, to prove Job’s faithfulness. I think it’s important to keep in mind that we, likewise, are never in the Throne Room scenes between God and the Accuser of our brothers or our own selves. And how much better it is to simply be there for one another. To walk arm in arm with support and love. This is better than advice. It’s better than our opinions about how they or we got there. At some point in life we are all faced with chinks.
I remember visiting the Pool of Bethesda on a tour in Israel. The story from John 5 tells us that from time to time an angel would stir the waters in the pool. When someone entered the water while it was being stirred, they would be healed. All they had to do was get into the water. There was a man lying next to the pool who had been invalid for 38 years. When Jesus came by and learned of the man's condition, he asked him if he wanted to get well. The man replied that he did but he had no one to help him into the water while it was being stirred. I love what Jesus does next. He did not say, "Let me give you a hand down to the water." Although that would have been an act of love and we would have been impressed by it. He didn't ask one of His apostles to sit there with him until the waters moved and help him in. He had access to the same healing power with which the angels stirred the water. And he helped the man. No hesitation. No speech about the man’s weaknesses about how it was that he managed to get next to the pool but declared he could never get in it at the right time. No second thoughts about the fact that it was the Sabbath. Healing was considered work and taking up your bed was work and Jewish law forbid working on the Sabbath. And he could get himself and the man in trouble with the enforcers of the law. He had the resources and he simply helped the man.
We’re all like the little ladybug in some way. As my pastor puts it, evil and destruction have touched each of our lives and left its mark. But thank God in our weaknesses his power is made perfect. Maybe when we see our brother’s/sister’s chink we can help heal. Maybe we cannot. When Paul asked to have the thorn removed God told him in a roundabout way, no. Job cried out for relief long before things got better. But love and mercy never fail. It is the best response we have. Even in the most sinful of circumstances. It’s your kindness that leads me to repentance. Romans 2:4 And these are often among the most powerful examples of God’s love, his grace and mercy in our lives. The places where he becomes most glorified through us. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27
In a culture obsessed with perfection it is good to remember that imperfections never go to waste in God’s hands. Not even on little ladybugs.