It was supposed to say strong. That’s what I really wanted to communicate to a pastor I was talking to this morning. I wanted to say, “be strong…” but the Spirit told me no. So instead my words came out as…
Stay weak so that He can be strong in you.
Not easy to type, not easy to read. Not easy to digest and say to another person. I mean, what does that even mean? I shared it with my husband, and his first response was “why would you want to remain weak?” I’m sure I would get that response from a lot of people.
In case you didn’t know, I’ve been dealing with sickness a lot lately. Headaches, nausea, numbness, vertigo, as well as vision and hearing issues. Been like this since the first of the year. Being that it’s the 9th of February, I’ve been dealing with this for 40 days. The good news is that a ton of people are praying for me, and my MRI will be done tonight.
40 days is a long time to endure the wilderness of suffering.
During this time, you are in disbelief that it has been so long and you’re tired and desperate for relief. There are days when you suffer more and days when you suffer less, but overall you’re still suffering. And when you are in the wilderness, there is weakness. The pain is wearing you down. It’s all you can focus on, and you do your best to get through your days with impairment affecting you on many levels. You can’t do the things you used to do. You make modifications to your lifestyle so you can get by, and you try to rely on others more than you really want to. For all intents and purposes, you are weak.
With our American independence, weakness can seem like a pretty dirty word. Why would we want to appear weak or lean on someone else? Often, people with illness and disabilities are left to fend for themselves because we live in a “me, me, me” society. No one seems to really care how you are feeling, what you are dealing with, or what you can and can’t do until it affects them personally. Sure, that can be upsetting to acknowledge but as hard as we try, it really is difficult to walk in someone else’s shoes. Especially when that person is in pain all the time.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about 2 Corinthians 12:9. The words have not left me, and I find myself meditating on them, trying to understand the depth of their meaning:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
What does that mean? How is grace enough? How can I apply this to what I am currently going through? This is what I have been wrestling with and I’m sure it had something to do with why I told the pastor to stay weak. No one chooses weakness; we would all rather take life by the reigns and do things on our own. Why let God take over when the sin of pride says that you got this?
The thing about ministry is “you don’t got this.” You truly can do nothing worthwhile for the Kingdom if your interests and your desires are steering you.
You and God can’t lead at the same time.
That being said, it is a lot harder to walk away and let God take over when you feel like you still have enough control in life to be strong on your own. When you are fighting sickness, you already feel out of control.
I’ve noticed some things in the last 40 days as I’ve battled whatever it is my body is going through. For one, listening to or writing worship music seems to strengthen me to the point that I can move past the pain I’m feeling. It doesn’t make it go away but it is no longer the object of my consciousness. This also seems to be the case when I’m actively involved in ministry work, like when I led my small group recently or when I’m working with the youth for the Fine Arts competition this year.
When I am focused on working for Him, regardless of how I feel, He steps in and gives me the strength to help me get through it.
When I am weak, there is room for God to do a work in me. I have made a way for Him to perform a miracle only He can do. How many miracles can He do if I’m leading the way? None. I may not have a choice over being weak from my illness, but I see now the beauty in it. I’m starting to understand how suffering does not have to be such a bad thing, even longsuffering. When I look at those that have endured pain all their lives, I’ve often wondered how they do it. Now I know – it was never them but God himself.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13