Three different times I begged the Lord to take [my suffering] away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9a
I am currently in the middle of casting a show for our local community theatre. I had a lot of people try out and there are many roles to fill. In all my years of working on the stage I know that the vast majority of people are wanting to be cast in one of the major, lead roles. This show has a host of smaller “bit” parts and I know that many people will be disappointed when they see that they have been cast in one of these “lesser” roles. Most people think that bit parts are by definition worse parts and that being cast in them means that they are considered lesser actors or have been maligned in some way. But, as a director, actor and playwright I don’t see it that way and it grieves me to know that people will be disappointed by my casting decisions.
Most stories and plays have “bit” parts because they are crucial to the telling and they often provide for some of the most important and entertaining moments. As a director, I pay close attention to the smaller parts and consider the casting of the bit parts to be among the most crucial decisions I make. In some cases, a “lesser” role is so important to the story that I only want to cast a strong actor whom I can trust in that role. Time after time after time I have watched productions in which audiences buzz afterwards about one of the “lesser” characters who played their part so well at such a crucial moment that they “stole the show” from the lead actors.
Shakespeare wrote “All the worlds a stage, and we are all but players in it.” In today’s chapter, Paul realizes a similar lesson about his own role in this life. Like our desire to have the lead role, we all tend to desire the spotlight of power, prestige, fortune, and fame. Paul had learned an important lesson, however. He learned that God, the author of creation and master playwright, is known for a recurring theme: common, lesser, younger, weak, marginalized characters become the most important and powerful pieces of the story. Consider the line up of players like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, John and all twelve of Jesus’ disciples. All of them were considered “weak” and “lesser” in the eyes of the world for various reasons (age, birth order, home of origin, handicap, social status, etc.), but ended up being among the crucial pieces to the Great Story. As God revealed to Paul, He specializes in making weakness a conduit of true power.
Today, I’m thinking about the many ways I feel “weak” on the grand stage of life as I compare myself to those who live in the spotlight of this world. I think about my own feelings of being “less than” and my need to be reminded of an old adage of the stage: there are no small roles, only small actors. Help me, Lord, to play my role well today.