One of the great challenges of my life has been my height, or more specifically, the lack of it. If I stretch, I can reach 5 feet, 5 inches. And I come by it legitimately. My grandma was a heavy set woman weighing close to 300 pounds and she was about as wide as she was tall. I have an old photo of my mom and her siblings. All of them are barely five feet tall.
All my life, I have endured mockery for being so short. When I would stand up to speak in public, after I had stood up, people would still call out, “Henry! Stand up!” I would tell them it’s not politically correct to make fun of short people. Besides, I would tell them I am not short, just vertically challenged!
Actually, I tell people, when I began the ministry as a pastor, I was 6’4”. But whenever I would be asked to speak, people would always say to me, “Pastor, please be short!” And so that explains how I came to the present height…
And my concern of being short is not without legitimacy. Many times, short people experience difficulties and even discrimination in life due to their shortness. Research has shown that tall people typically get promotions sooner, become more successful, find a spouse sooner and have a greater success potential. They say that, with one exception, each of the U. S. presidential races has been won by the taller person. Indeed, in the Bible, the first of Israel’s kings was a man by the name of Saul and of him it was said that he was “head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.” When they saw how tall he was, they immediately wanted him as their king.
A lot of people struggle with disabilities, handicaps and various other deficiencies in life, which hold them back and even debilitate them. I once counseled a fellow, who was really struggling with his inability to get a decent job due to his learning disability. His self esteem was exceptionally low because of it.
Yet, I made an incredible discovery in studying the Bible when it comes to the things we feel unhappy about in our lives that we have no control over or ability to change: things like our race, our facial features, our intelligence level, and so forth. According to the Bible, those “weaknesses” can be our greatest asset.
One Biblical writer, Paul, tells of his experience with what he called a “thorn in the flesh”. Did you ever have a sliver and without something sharp around, try to keep on working with that thing lodged in your thumb? Almost impossible, isn’t it? So Paul prayed to God and asked Him three times, to remove it from him. Each time, he received a negative reply. He was told by God, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul’s attitude about that, from that time forth changed: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
You see, the very thing you don’t like about you, your body, your past is the very thing that God has allowed to happen so that you could be most useful to God. Handicaps do not need to restrict our potential in life; oftentimes, they can be used by God to accomplish His greater purposes in our lives.
I can see that in my life. Back when I was a kid, when the typical bullying would be happening in the school yard, I couldn’t use physical size to defend myself – I didn’t have any. So I compensated. I learned to defend myself verbally. More than once, I talked myself out of being beaten into a pulp by a guy 8 inches taller and 80 pounds heavier. I also learned to rely on humor to get people onto my side.
Those skills today form the basis of much of my life’s work in serving God. And they came out of a deficiency that I once greatly resented.
Maybe you’re struggling with something like this today and have been moaning and groaning about it, r even worse, you’ve been hating yourself and your station in life. If so, remember this: your greatest weakness can be your greatest asset. Ask God to reveal to you what His plan is for your “shortcoming” and then use that to further glorify Him.
God never wastes a hurt.