Embodied: When You Feel Fragile

Our bodies tell a story. Many of us walk with a limp, not just from physical injuries (though my ankle is currently fractured), but as we carry along the emotional side effects of all kinds of brokenness. If we’d had it our way, would we have ever chosen to write this much weakness into our life stories? 

I thought about that last week as I watched a new friend from Afghanistan moving back and forth in front of a stove, mixing fresh ingredients into a traditional meal, and telling stories about what it was like to flee her home country. When she sat down to eat, she talked about her first few weeks attending school in America. The trauma had taken such a toll on her body that even though she wanted to pay attention in class, all she could do was sleep. 

While this friend was telling me about her family, my brother was preparing to return to the oncology unit for a new round of bloodwork. He’s now in remission, so his port has been removed, but a scar still remains near his heart. Any time he waits for test results, my entire family feels the tension across our chests.

After his tests, a woman from church stopped me to ask about his results. At that moment, she didn’t mention that her dating relationship had ended the night before, but the redness of her eyes gave away her grief. Concealer only covers so much. The conversation reminded me of someone else in our community, who had recently posted a prayer request describing how emotionally overwhelmed and physically exhausted she felt. Someone had responded with the comment: “That’s so much for a heart, sweet friend.”

It’s all so much for a heart. 

Our Limitless God Knows Our Limits

A few months ago I was scheduled to write a post here on the Revive Our Hearts blog, but we replaced it at the last minute. The weight of all that my family had experienced during my brothers’ cancer journey had taken a toll on my mind, and trying to think felt like wading through mud. I felt more like weeping than writing; it took all my energy to get out of bed. 

I printed Psalm 103:13–14 and left it on my desk: 

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
For he knows what we are made of,
remembering that we are dust.

I needed to know that the Lord knew: He knew my whole family felt fragile. He knew it was too much for us to carry. I don’t know how many times I held the piece of paper with that verse in my hands, reading over the words and praying them back:

Lord, You’re not just aware of my circumstances. You see how hard it is, and You care.
You know the limits of my heart and mind; You know this is too much to carry on my own. You know because You are the one who made and sustains my life. You know that we’re fragile. You know that we’re exhausted. You know, and You’re not leaving us to handle this alone. Will You give us peace? 

He did give us peace. He carried us through that season—but even in the midst of His gracious provision, not every desire was met. In those moments, a longing for tangible comfort remained. 

As a single woman, I often hear friends in a similar season mention how much they long to have someone to physically hold them in their hardest moments. As embodied individuals, people made not just with souls but with bodies, we were made by God with a desire for intimacy. That need doesn’t diminish God’s grace and power toward us or somehow negate the sufficiency of the gospel. It can actually help us as we “consider Jesus,” (Heb. 3:1) and see how the incarnation of Christ—that the Son of God was a real man in a real body—is our hope for the moments we feel fragile. 

All the Parts of Humanity 

We can get so caught up in our own world that we lose sight of the wonder that Jesus walked on this earth and experienced the same weakness we face. In Incomparable, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth invites us to consider how stunning this reality is. “His incarnation for us required identification with us,” she said. “Part of what made this whole plan so ingeniously effective is that He restricted for a time the full use and expression of His divine capabilities so that He, like us, could experience [the physical part, the intellectual part, the social part, the psychological part.] All the parts.”1

In the book, Nancy quotes theologian Wayne Grudem who called the incarnation of Christ “‘by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible’—more amazing than creation, more amazing even than the resurrection. In fact, Grudem writes, it ‘will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe.’” Nancy goes on to say,

We will never fully understand, of course, the divine thinking behind this event called the incarnation. (The word comes from a Latin term that means “to make into flesh; to become flesh.”) Why would Jesus choose to take on our human weaknesses, frailties, and limitations? Imagine being omnipotent, all-powerful, yet requiring the parental care of a mother and father. Imagine being omniscient, all-knowing, yet needing to learn how to walk; being the eternal Word of God, yet needing to learn how to read. Imagine having created the oceans, yet being thirsty for water. Imagine having spoken the stars into place, yet lying down at night underneath them.

Imagine Jesus fleeing from His homeland to Egypt (Matt. 2:13–15) and experiencing the trauma my Afghan friend did when she fled to America. Imagine Jesus hearing the news that family members were sick; imagine Him feeling grief so deeply in His body that it became difficult to get out of bed. 

As I’ve read Incomparable, it’s made me think back to Psalm 103:13–14 and view it through a different lens. God the Father did not merely know what we are made of and remember our fragility, He responded by sending His Son to earth to be a Savior who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). Jesus knows how hard it is to be human. He knows intimately how suffering can be too much for a heart to bear.

Jesus, who had a perfect relationship with the Father and was without sin, still would have been susceptible to the same needs for human contact. We see Him physically engaging with those He encountered throughout the gospels: taking people by the hand, touching their faces, and stepping closer to them in their brokenness. Can’t you imagine Him hugging those He cared about and holding them close? 

He also would have known how it felt to not receive physical comfort in moments when His heart longed for it. As a single man, He didn’t have a spouse caring for Him on the most difficult nights. In the garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:36–46, in Jesus’ anguish, His own disciples were found sleeping at a time He could have used their comforting presence. 

He asked them, “Couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour?” (v. 40). The reality of the incarnation is that Christ chose to submit to the brokenness and experience painful moments like these.

Why would Jesus do this? He’d dwelt in heavenly places, in celestial palaces. Why would He submit to being born in a borrowed cattle shed? He was the beloved Son of God. Why would He agree to becoming the rejected Son of Man? . . . 

Why? Because whether we understand [the incarnation] fully or not (which we can’t!), only by His humbling Himself to this degree could we be saved from our sins. There was no other way. “He had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way” or else there’d be no “atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).3

Hope for Fragile Moments

Our hope—for the moments we feel fragile and for every moment in between—is in what God accomplished through the incarnation of Christ. “As a father has compassion on his children,” the Lord showed His immeasurable love toward us by sending His own Son into the world to bear the full score of our broken bodies. Because He chose to submit Himself to the frailties of human flesh, we can trust that the One who holds the world in His hands will one day hold us. 

Our bodies tell a story of brokenness, but Jesus’ scarred hands and feet have the final word. Consider Him when you feel most fragile, and consider Him when your heart longs for comfort. You can be confident that the weakness you feel today won’t last forever; keep looking to Jesus for hope, holding fast to Him until He extends His arms and welcomes you home.

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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Incomparable: 50 Days with Jesus (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2024), 25.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Incomparable, 25.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Incomparable, 26.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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