Today's guest blogger is Suzanne Holland. Suzanne is a grateful
follower of Jesus Christ, wife to John, and mom to two grown up boys. She is a
Certified Biblical Counselor with the IABC, offering the hope of the Scriptures
to those who are hurting. Suzanne writes on her blog, Near to the Healer, and has a special emphasis on ministering to those who
suffer with ongoing physical pain. Her blog is reposted with permission.
We are coming up on the time of year
when, at least in my area, the weather is beautiful. The trees begin to bud,
the grass becomes green again, and the sun shines at last, warming up our dark,
cold winter world. When spring comes, it means that winter has passed. We have
survived the long months of cold and snow, and are now to be rewarded with
warmth, sunshine and flowers.
As I wrote a few weeks ago,
this time of year is especially difficult for me, and maybe for you too, if you
suffer with chronic pain. In that recent article,
I wrote about the importance of preparing for these seasons of difficulty. But,
no matter how prepared we are, we are still made of flesh, and feelings of
sadness can still overtake us. This is where I found myself today.
After spending a few days away from
home at a conference, I was very tired. All the regular pains were flared up,
along with a few other aches and issues from sleeping in a different bed, diet
changes, and all the other things that go along with being away from home. All
this made me somewhat weak in fighting the feelings that came upon me Monday
morning as my friend shared about her weekend. “We got lots of yard work done.
It felt great to have the yard looking so good.” The right response to that
would go something like this: “Good for you! That is a great feeling to be all
caught up, isn't it?” My heart response: “Yeah, my yard is a mess, but I can’t
do anything about it. I am jealous of your physical strength and health, and I
don’t understand why I have to be in this condition while you carry on doing
everything without physical pain, and you’re older than I am!”
Another friend couldn't wait to tell
me about all the fun she had with her grand kids, walking the trails and
playing at the playground. The right response? To be happy for her, of course,
and glad that she is making such wonderful memories, both for herself and for
them. I mustered up an appropriate response, but in my heart, I felt jealousy
and bitterness. I don’t have grandchildren yet, but one of my greatest fears is
that, by the time they come, I will not be able to play with them in the ways
my friend described. In my mind, I have already been cheated out of that
experience, and my own children are not even married yet!
What has happened here? This is not my
typical thinking any more, and hasn’t been for a long time. I have worked hard
at training my thoughts to feed biblical fuel to my emotions. I am usually very
quick to snatch those thoughts that are circling the drain,
out of the whirlpool before it’s too late. But today, I was too slow. I allowed
those old thinking patterns to have the rule over my mind, instead of what I
know are the right, biblical, God-honoring thoughts. Why did I do this? Do I
enjoy feeling sad, or do I long for despair? Did I just need a good cry to
“vent out” all my feelings? How did I get here?
As I pondered these questions, 2
Corinthians 12:9 came to my mind:
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times
that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient
for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness...’”
That last word echoed in my mind and heart. Weakness.
Vulnerability. I recognized myself in that moment. I had become so tired, both
physically and emotionally, that I’d let my guard down. Now I was thinking I
shouldn’t be a counselor, and maybe I’m not even really a Christian. How can I
ever counsel anyone when I am so quick to give in to despair and hopelessness?
How can I be a Christian if all it takes is one weekend away from home to make
me forget the goodness and love of God?
In that moment, I realized that it is just that—the
goodness and love of God—that was making me aware of the nature of my thoughts.
Had the Spirit of God not intervened, I would have continued to spiral downward
in my thinking, and I certainly wouldn't be writing this post right now. This
is why and how His grace is sufficient: It is sufficient to sustain my faith
through any kind or amount of pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
It is sufficient to keep me serving Him in whatever He calls me to do. And it
is sufficient to bring my thinking back into line with His.
So what does His strength being made perfect look like,
from a practical standpoint? Does it mean that I will never give in to feelings
of sadness or despair? Does it mean He will enable me to fake a loving response
to my friends when they tell of how they are enjoying their health? No, I don’t
think so. I think it looks like the goodness and love of God coming to me at just
the right time: When I’m tired, when I’m weak, when pain levels are up; when I
cannot depend on myself and my own strength to bail me out of the deep waters
of sadness; when I can’t snatch my own thoughts out of the circling vortex of
despair, He Himself will swoop down in His strength and catch them and me.
I often depend on the Amplified bible to clarify the
application of Scripture, and once again, it does not disappoint with this
verse. Here’s how it goes:
“But He said to me, My grace (My favor
and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger
and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are
made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in
[your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses
and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest
(yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”
I want to draw your attention
especially to that last line. In my weakness, the strength and power of Christ
will pitch a tent over me and dwell upon me! What a glorious picture of our
Lord’s grace! Though we are weak, exposed, and vulnerable, the Lord brings down
his protective “tent” and dwells with us in it, strengthening us and bringing
us into His rest. Here, He reminds us through His Word that we are not alone in
our pain and weariness.
My dear friend, are you tired today?
Weary of pain and weakness? Don't fret about it, and don't let it cause you to
doubt whether you are useful the Lord. Remember this passage. Crawl into your
“tent” with the Lord and His Word, and let Him show you the sufficiency of His
grace in your weakness. Stay there until you are strengthened. And when you are
once again full of His grace, love and power, go find a tired sister and invite
her to your campground. You will see that you are able to do all that He calls
you to do; that His grace is indeed sufficient; and that your weakness has a
purpose: To make His strength perfect, and to show His love and goodness to
others, not in spite of your weakness, but because of it.
Hallelujah! What a Rescue! What a Savior!
Labels: Guest Blogger-Holland