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  • Andrew Frere-Smith

Paradox


I have always enjoyed the idea of the paradox. A paradox is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to our expectation. It can even take the form of an image, like the staircase that appears to climb endlessly.


Pablo Picasso invented a paradox of his own when he said that ‘Everything you imagine is real’. The Greeks also enjoyed paradoxes. A classic paradox from Epimenides is the statement ‘A Cretan says: “All Cretans are liars”’.


One paradox that has always fascinated me is the statement ‘our strength can be our greatest weakness’. This is particularly true when I spend too much time on things I most enjoy and overlook the things I don’t!

Similarly, the opposite is also true - our weaknesses can be our greatest strength. Our weaknesses can humble us and remind us that we still have lots to learn. Reflecting on our weaknesses can lead us to repentance and seeking restoration both with others and with God. It can fuel our prayers and build our hope for a better tomorrow.


When writing to the church in Corinth, Paul explained how God had given him a physical weakness. Although Paul pleaded for a healing, God said to him, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Paul learned his lesson and went on to say, ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong.’


As we look to build back better, I wonder what we will learn from our Covid-19 experience, our year of weakness. Will we hold on to the qualities that have made our communities stronger? Will we continue to step forward and volunteer, looking out for the lonely, marginalised and isolated? Will we have the courage to be vulnerable and acknowledge our own need of help? Will we still make people our priority and the building of a more compassionate community our goal? If we do these things, then surely, we will build a better community and our weaknesses will indeed have become strengths.


Andrew.

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