Can I be really real with you all right now? The past few months have been really hard. I don’t want to exaggerate the difficulties or even bring attention to them per se but I do want to share some of the things that have been happening. My purpose for sharing is so that you will know how to pray, so that God may be glorified in our endurance with faith and so that others facing trials may be encouraged as well.
To give you some context: I have been struggling with health issues – the drug I’m on for RA makes me prone to sinus infections and I just can’t shake one! I’ve had months of cycles of RA flares and migraines, antibiotics and Excedrin, doctor’s visits and copays, fatigue and pain. Additionally, I was also recently diagnosed with another issue that is going to be surgically treated next Friday.
These things would challenging enough on their own but to also be preparing for Malawi, raising support (about $20,000 left to raise!), figuring out logistics, working full-time, training my replacement at work and planning to move… life is just very challenging right now to say the least! Others, I know, have it far worse. But right now, for me, it’s all actually more than I can handle. I’m struggling, I’m overwhelmed with everything. If you’ve known me very long, you probably know that I do not like admitting that, but it’s true.
I’m not actually here to talk about how hard everything is. I’m here to talk about how great God is.
And God is calling us to go to Malawi. He could have chosen the strongest couple with no health problems, no concerns, and no worries about what is going to happen. But He didn’t. He chose us. Why did He do that? What is He doing in all of this? Why is He allowing all of these things to happen right now? Can I trust Him?
I’m so glad that there are real answers to these questions found in the Word. These are the verses that I am clinging to right now (emphasis my own – all from the ESV):
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God intentionally called us in our weakness so that as we endure and overcome, HE is glorified! The passage in 2 Corinthians 12 is often quoted and sounds nice in theory but in practice, none of us want to endure weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, or calamities. Embracing these things is counter-cultural and even offensive to our American sensibilities that crave comfort and stability. I crave comfort and stability. Thank God that He is putting me through weakness and hardship right now! His power WILL be made perfect in my weakness. HE will be glorified in me!
2 Corinthians 2:8-11 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
I love that Paul is writing about his own experience. Life was really hard for them, it was actually too much for them to handle. But even in the midst of that trial, Paul saw God’s purpose – to make him dependent on Him alone. I am thankful that God is showing me the same thing – I cannot rely on my own strength but I MUST rely on God! Also, as Paul requested the Corinthians to do, we request you to do also: “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Psalm 86:5-7 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
I started writing this post for you – our supporters and prayer partners and friends – but searching the Word and seeing what God is doing has actually encouraged ME so much! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do. He will provide for our needs to go to Malawi, He will provide the strength and the grace to complete the task He has called us to. He will Himself be glorified in us as we go. I am thankful that He is intentionally at work even, or rather especially, in the struggles that we’re facing. He is sending us to Malawi IN our weakness so that His strength might be evident in our lives. So if you see strength in us, if you see endurance, power, grace or hope you can know that it comes from God alone! You are witnesses to this. I can’t wait to report how God works in our lives!
As I was processing all of these things, I wrote a poem. I don’t often write poems but at times I can express myself better in poetry than in prose. At the risk of oversharing, here it is:
This is more than I can handle
Why should my days be so fraught
With pain and pressure, loads uneasily
Born. Trials describe my lot.
I stand in the midst. Aware of the pain.
Aware of the remedy.
If it hurt less, I would laugh at the strain
The intentionality, the purposefulness
As trials from all sides arise
God does give more than we can handle.
His plot, His scheme, His grand enterprise
Include this pain, this pressure
That fills the path I foresee
Less terrible than other loads, I know
Yet impossibly thrust on me.
How clearly I see my lack. How clearly I see
My need for HELP.
Weakness is my name. He sees it all.
My needs He has felt.
He sits far above me, my struggle,
My need. Yet His eyes sees it all.
He sits far above yet is so very near.
He does not, will not, cannot let me fall
Away from His mighty grasp,
More mighty than my trial,
The weight that wants to crush me
HE bears in full without a rile,
Helping me press on and press on.
It’s HIS power that is clearly shown
He is yet at work, He is yet sovereign
Though my future feels bleak, unknown.
He works for my good, He bears all my load
Asking nothing of me in return.
Oh this lesson I have heard before
But still I do not yet learn
Depend fully on Him, is all that I must
Do, not on myself – Myself I know
I am weak, I am nothing, I am made of dust.
He is the one, He made the world!
Full of Glory and Might
He holds me, He holds my future
He gave me spiritual sight
To see that in Him
All the promises are “Yes & Amen”
This pain is for my good.
He’s kept me so far, He’ll keep me again
I can trust Him, lean, depend and abide
He chose me and this life
He gave me to bring glory to God
Amidst all eminent strife.
He will never leave me,
Forsake me or change
In this life, there is trouble,
I should not think it strange.
God gave me more than I can handle
So I would learn to depend on Him alone
Not on myself or on lesser things
So my faith will never be overthrown.
I revel in my weakness, I marvel that
The width, breadth and length
Of my struggle is no match for
His fantastic strength.
And even if the trial never goes away,
I know He will keep me every single day.