There was a period of years in my life when I randomly lost consciousness. The first time it happened I had just had an eye test, and I woke up on the floor with my head spinning and several blurry women in matching purple uniforms leaning over me. That was strange. Then there was the time my face went straight into my lunch, and the time I just fell over standing in the doorway of the kitchen. There was also the time I gave blood, and once again woke up with the staff leaning over me. Last, but certainly not least, there was the time my wife and I went to a traditional Irish music show. At the end of the evening they called people up from the audience to sing, and they called us, and we tried to say no but somehow we ended up on the stage anyway. We sang, and I was just starting to think we were pulling it off pretty well when I felt the blood leaving my brain. I knew that feeling like an old enemy by then, so I bent over double to encourage that blood to go back where it should have been while still trying to sing and act natural about the whole thing. I do not recommend this as a way to act natural. Thankfully, my wife caught me when I went down. When I woke up I saw sympathetic eyes glancing away from me. I guess most people don’t have a category for how to react to the guy who just collapsed publicly on stage in front of them. Fair enough.
The doctor ran some tests and told me not to worry. He said this can happen to young men, which explains why it hasn’t happened to me for a long time now. And please—I don’t use the term “fainted”. That’s what girls do. Guys blackout, like you know, when they’re hitting high G turns in fighter jets or standing in the doorway of the kitchen.
Ok, it’s not cool. I admit it. If it’s anything good, it’s funny. I’ve used these stories often for a laugh, and they always deliver. But the joke is on me. The laugh is my own weakness, my own inability to control the fundamental realities of my own life. My body betrayed me and flipped the power switch without my permission. When something like that happens, I am forced to remember two realities: that I am not in control, and that I am not as strong as I think I am. I may not like to dwell on these realities, but I can’t deny them.
Thankfully, I have outgrown the blackouts. The ways my body fails me now are less dramatic (so far), like getting tired too fast and sick at the wrong times and sore for reasons that aren’t good enough at all. I still don’t trust it. But these reminders of my finitude, whether daily or dramatic, can also help me remember other things that I know but can easily forget to think about—like the fact that there’s no need for despair over weakness because God is still in control and still strong enough to keep his promises for his children. He said that he would use “the weak things of the world to shame the strong”, so my limitations aren’t a problem for him. He said “my grace is sufficient for you”, and that’s sufficient for me. I don’t need to be in control. My body may betray me, but my Saviour never will.