In her first sermon for 2016, Sun Ho taught the people to call on God’s strength in times of weakness.
City Harvest Church experienced a touch from the Holy Spirit last weekend (Feb 20 and 21) when its co-founder Sun Ho preached about the proper perspective for a believer in times of weakness.
“In our weakness, we do not have to fear,” she said, “Fear is from the devil. In our weakness, we don’t have to give in to satan or to fear. We can be weakened by sickness or bankruptcy, but we do not have to be afraid.”
“We all want to be strong,” Ho noted, “but the reality is that we often find ourselves to be weak.” Because of this, many Christians struggle with questions like “Why does God let us stay so weak?”, “Why do we struggle and fail?”, “Why is it so difficult to hold on to our faith, to put sin to death?”
“In our fallen nature, we want to be strong in a way that reflects well on us; God wants us to be strong in a way that reflects His love for us,” Ho explained. “God allows you and me to be in hard situations because He wants to cultivate something good in us. He wants us, in our weakness, to discover His strength.”
In Exodus 14, the Israelites had their backs against the wall when they faced Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them. They had nowhere to go—it seemed they were going to die by the sword, or die by drowning.
In their weakness and terror, the Israelites cried out and spoke against Moses. The leader replied them: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” God delivered them by parting the waves, allowing them to pass safely, before closing up the passageway and destroying the Egyptian army. Through this miracle, the Israelites’ cries of terror turned a song of praise to the Lord.
Instead of parting the waves, however, why did God not transform the Israelites into a mighty army? “When we are weak, we would love for God to turn us into Samson. But why does God not do that?” asked Ho.
Referring to Judges 15:16 in the Bible, the preacher highlighted that Samson boasted of his own prowess after a big victory over the Philistines: “With a donkey’s jawbone, I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone, I have killed a thousand men.” It was only when he found himself in a place of complete weakness later on that Samson drew on the strength of God.
Indeed, no one knew this better than the apostle Paul. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke of a thorn in his flesh. It bothered him—Paul prayed three times for it to be taken from him—but he knew its purpose, which was to keep him from becoming conceited and proud. In response to his prayer, he received a revelation that God’s strength is made perfect in a believer’s weakness. This revelation was what allowed him to “delight”, as he wrote, “in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties.”
While occasions of weakness are chances for us to experience the power of God, fear can paralyse us, preventing us from letting Christ take over our lives.
In Isaiah 41:10, the Lord comforts and reassures us, “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God.” It also promises help and edification, “I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.”
Ho went on to explain, “God is our personal savior. He promises to be with us when we are weak. He is the light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of Isaiah 41:10, it says ‘I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ What the Lord is saying is this: ‘Fear not. I will hold you together. I will make sure your life will not fall apart.’”
So what’s the secret weapon against fear?
“Love is the strongest conquering power over fear,” Ho declared.
She related a personal example. When she was a four-year-old, she had a traumatic experience with a pair of ferocious felines; her phobia persisted into adulthood. When her son Dayan desperately wanted a cat for a pet, her love for her son helped her to face her fear.
When Dayan placed a kitten in her lap, Ho’s instinct was to get up and run away. “But I didn’t, because I love Dayan, and I could see how much he wanted the kitten and wanted me to accept it.” She then realised that the little creature was trembling in fear. “What I had feared was more afraid of me! I realized then that my fear was irrational, and completely out of proportion.”
Fear cripples us, and that is what the devil wants, Ho pointed out. The devil wants believers be too afraid to respond to Jesus. On the other hand, God wants them to experience the strength of Jesus in the face of weakness.
“God doesn’t need you to be strong for him,” said Ho. “He wants to be strong for us. He doesn’t want us to feel lousy because we feel we are not strong enough for him. Instead, He wants to be your strength, your song, your salvation.”
Ho gave an altar call for those in the congregation who harbored fears, and hundreds responded to prayer and deliverance before the service ended.