Like most books on Washington, this one pointed to his tremendous self-control as one of his greatest strengths. Like most books on Washington, this one suggested that he gained this degree of self-control in struggling with his tremendous passions. One meaning of weak things being made strong is that our weaknesses are replaced with their opposite strengths. We are probably more likely to ask for the strengths that we are the most conscious of lacking, and, asking, are therefore more likely to receive. We are probably also more careful about the virtues that we have felt the lack of. Former alcoholics are usually teetotalers.
. For a bloggernacle example (of the general principle, not of alcoholism), see here.
A sister from the pueblo gave a talk on service. She mentioned a friend of hers who was in a black depression after her husband divorced her for frivolous reasons of personal fulfillment. The sister counseled her friend to lose herself in service, which she did. The friend has now acquired a taste for it. Another meaning of weak things being made strong is that our weaknesses make us stronger as we struggle with them. The book on Washington suggested that one of his strengths was his unflinching knowledge of flawed human nature which he gained by first recognizing his own flaws. Weaknesses can lead us to Christ, as with the Zoramites of Alma 32.
The sister’s husband gave a talk that mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s compassion. His compassion was probably a weakness in a war leader. He kept generals around too long and was too quick to undermine discipline with pardons. Eventually Stanton in the Department of War supplied the ruthlessness that Lincoln lacked, but before then damage was certainly done. On the other hand, Lincoln’s compassion won over the soldiers, who voted for him in large numbers in 1864, and the population, who did the same. His compassion probably also made a difference abroad, especially in England. His compassion was a key ingredient in the Second Inaugural, which has become part of the American scripture. His compassion and the country’s memory of it was also important to the country’s healing after the war had ended. The third meaning of weak things becoming strong is that our weaknesses are really malformed virtues, or misapplied virtues, and through God’s grace they will become the virtues they were meant to be. If you remember the story, this is the meaning of the lizard who became a stallion in The Great Divorce.
All three meanings are part of the great meaning of the fall, our mortal probation, and Christ’s redeeming work.