Book Review
Weakness Is the Way

Weakness Is the Way

by J. I. Packer
Published 2013

What a strange title!  It seems so out of place in this age. What does it mean?

A small book, 5 by 7 inches and 125 pages, the subtitle is Life with Christ our Strength.  

Remember Paul's "thorn in the flesh" :

II Corinthians 12: 7-9  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

God wanted Paul to live in his own weakness and in God's strength. This new book of Packer's is based on passages of II Corinthians centered on that concept.

There is an important aspect of this book which is not directly mentioned in it. It is that Packer was 86 years old as this book came out. As we age we become increasingly familiar with advancing weaknesses, and as we do this book can be sweet comfort.

In Chapter one Packer analyses what weakness is and what it brings. But it is not just the weakness of the aging. "The truth, however, is that in many respects, and certainly in spiritual matters, we are all weak and inadequate, and we need to face it." What we see in II Corinthians, and in this book, is "that the way of true spiritual strength, leading to real fruitfulness in Christian life and service, is the humble, self-distrustful way of consciously recognized weakness in spiritual things."

Packer closes Chapter one with a personal account. He tells first of an accident he had (at the age of seven), as is said in another source, "a violent collision with a truck, a bread van," which greatly affected his life for years. Then he speaks of "the past three years" and "the experience of a hip disintegrating" with physical and cognitive weakness resulting, as well as "gloom and discouragement". So, you see, this is a very personal book.

Other chapters cover The Christian's Calling, common to all believers, The Christian's Hoping, a beautiful glimpse of the future, and between these, the Christian's Giving.

As I was reading this book I often visualized myself sitting with others round a fireplace listening to this old man's explaining the wisdom of the Word, expressed for us in plan and meaningful language. Pull up a chair and join the group.

J. I. PakerAuthor J. I. Packer (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College.

He is the author of numerous books, including the classic best-seller Knowing God. Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version Bible and as theological editor for the ESV Study Bible.