Most people associate leaning with weakness. For example, one might lean against a wall when tired of standing. A building may begin to lean if its structure or foundation has become weakened.
In the spiritual sense, this is also true. Consider the great Apostle Paul who felt less than strong because of the presence of a thorn in his flesh. When he prayed that the Lord would remove the thorn, the Lord responded to Paul’s plea by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God essentially said, “NO… I will not remove the thorn but the grace I give you is greater than the thorn. So, you’re weak? Good! Now watch the perfection of My power.” Ouch!
The ‘thorns’ of life that buffet, harass, pierce, and weaken us, ironically and uniquely create the perfect opportunity for the power of Christ to be manifested to us and through us. His power rests on us while we, in weakness, rest on Him.
A great hymn of the church written by Elisha A. Hoffman (1839-1929) entitled “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” expresses this notion succinctly. It references an Old Testament passage out of Deuteronomy 33 which reads, “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (v. 27a). The second stanza of the hymn asks, “What have I to dread, what have I to fear?” The rhetorical answer is, nothing! Why? Because of the reassuring refrain:
Leaning, leaning – Safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning, leaning – Leaning on the everlasting arms
While you may stand on the promises of God, you must also lean on the arms of God. You’ll only find strength to stand when you learn to lean.