For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10b, NKJV)
Back in May I was diagnosed with two specific types of liver damage. One I was born with and the other is the result of a certain medication. I’ve been poked and prodded, had blood drawn, been shot through with radiation for a CT scan. I’ve been through a difficult time of withdrawal from that medication. I’ve experienced moments of significant pain. Right now, as I type these words, I sit on the couch with a heating pad tucked against my right side, trying to ease both the swelling and the ache.
I’m drawn to these words of Paul’s, words written as he suffered what was probably physical pain. I am confronted again with the idea that it is only in fully owning up to and embracing our weakness that we are able to engage in authentic relationship with God.
That’s a hard truth.
We can’t go the full-on deterministic route and assign God the blame for every bad thing or every moment of suffering. Nor can we go the complete free-will route and decide that God is totally hands-off. Neither position accurately reflects what Scripture reveals to us about our wildly wonderful Creator and King. It would be nice if we could precisely discern what God “decrees” and what He “allows” in our lives, but I no longer think that’s the right line of pursuit. We don’t know enough, can’t see enough, to able to nail that one down.
Now, I ask: What do You want me to do here, Lord?
In my heart, I feel that His answer is: Trust Me. Rest in Me. Obey Me. Stay with Me.
We Are Weak
I am weak. Frail. Fragile. My life is but a breath, the merest whisp. I can’t deny that, especially knowing that the most recent blood tests have shown that things are getting worse. I’m counting down the days until I see the specialist. And, while the likelihood of me getting pregnant has always been low, I’m under doctors orders now to do everything I can to avoid it, because pregnancy will make my liver problems worse. I’d be in the high-risk category before I even knew a life was forming. While I truly do accept this and believe that adoption may be in my future, this is still a big thing to adjust to when you’re married to a man who simply adores kids.
Whether God ordains a thing to happen or allows a thing to happen, I think that He works to bring us face-to-face with our intense inability to maintain any semblance of strength. He is like a drill instructor in that. He seeks to peel back the layers of self-assurance and get to the heart of who we are. He then builds us into the people that He designed us to be. That process, I think, means coming back to this weakness over and over again. What does that song say? Heal the wound – but leave the scar.
In some strange way, I am content in not knowing exactly why I’ve had so many health issues for so long. I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure that out and never get anywhere. I’d rather travel the roads of healing that God has provided, gathering as many tools for the fight as I possibly can, all the while knowing that I will never, ever arrive at a place where I am not in desperate, aching need of Him.
He is Strong
I’m not sure that we ever arrive at a place of “overcoming” problems in the sense that they will end. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. In searching for that, we set ourselves up for disappointment when the next blow of temptation, diagnosis or financial loss comes. There will never be a time before our Lord returns when the sailing will be always smooth and easy. Overcoming is about perspective rather than an actual end. It is completely within our grasp, as children of the King, to walk through the raging rivers with integrity and peace. We may never get out to the other side alive in this life – and that’s okay. We have the power that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling within (Romans 8:11)! Whatever comes our way, we can endure. We can even be joyful because we know that this is not all that there is (Revelation 21:1-7). We overcome not in a series of steps, not in a program, not in never being tempted or never having issues ever again. Instead, we overcome by keeping our eyes on Jesus every day.
The tears are stinging my eyes now. My goddaughter likes to say, “But I’m just little.” We feels this. Our souls cry out, “I’m just little! I’m just awkward! I’m just weak! I’m just tired!”
And yet we are strong. We am hidden in the folds of God’s robe, tucked safely against His heart. He is our shield, our defender. We might be little, but He is so beyond big. We might be awkward, but He moves with perfect grace. We might be weak, but He isn’t. We might be exhausted, but He never sleeps (Psalm 121). We can go confidently forward with a Lord like that!