When I look back at my life, the thread that I see woven through the years is God’s faithfulness to me. But this week, I was reflecting on my battle with depression, and 2 Corinthians 12:9 came to mind: “[His] power is made perfect in weakness.” It was a new way to view my past. I considered that depression was a way for God’s power to be evident in my life. It gave me a renewed desire to share my story of how God has worked in my life. But who am I that anyone would care about my life and my story? God, on the other hand, is Someone we should all care about knowing. I want to share my story so that those who don’t know God might learn about Him, and those who do know Him may be encouraged.
I have been considering and praying about whether this blog is something that I should continue, or if I should look for other avenues to present my writing and my story. I don’t know if it is ambition or discouragement that is driving my thoughts. It intend to be working toward getting published, but I have lost focus. I am trying to discern God’s leading in this. Whichever way I go, I feel unequal to the task. I don’t think God wants me to be discouraged, but neither does He want me filled with pride. I’m not very good at walking this tightrope.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [thorn in the flesh], 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.2 Corinthians 12:8-10
My sister and I recently watched the Prime series, World’s Toughest Race. Four-person teams participated in this adventure race that took most competitors more than a week to complete. The days and nights were spent traversing an extreme variety of climates across the island nation of Fiji. It was inspiring to watch athletes from around the world test the boundaries of their physical and mental strength. The danger for those who were able to finish the race, is that they will trust in their own strength. People make themselves strong to try to control aspects of their lives. But as I have written before, believing we are in control is only an illusion.
More than twenty years ago, I was a low point, having realized my own weakness and propensity to sin. I joined the crew team for my last semester at the academy. At graduation, I was the strongest and fittest I have ever been. I learned a lot about myself, and it was good for me to gain discipline and perseverance. But as much as I wanted it to be the answer, physical strength and mental toughness did not solve the problem of my spiritual and emotional weakness. It was good for me, but it wasn’t what I needed. I needed to learn to rely on God’s strength. It would take more trials to teach me this.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?Isaiah 40: 28-31
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
In Knowing God, J.I. Packer wrote, “And God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing, so that we may learn thankfully to lean on Him.” The picture that came to my mind when I read this, was of one of the older competitors in the World’s Toughest Race. He was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but it was his body that failed him. He struggled through back pain until he could barely walk. At that point, two Fijians from the local community allowed him to put his arms around their shoulders, and they carried his weight and helped him move forward. Imagine strangers making that sacrifice because they are inspired to help you succeed. Now see that God is there with open arms to His children when we are struggling. Too often, like a stubborn toddler we say, “I want to do it myself!”
Sometimes I feel quite tired and discouraged. Lord, teach me to see this as an opportunity to lean on You. God does not grow tired or weary! Isaiah 40 was the basis for a favorite song we used to sing at Friday evening fellowship meetings at the Academy. God used these verses to remind me of joy I experienced in the midst of difficulty and the good friend I shared those times with. I wonder if I have allowed God’s strength to be evident in my life through the years. I know that He is the one who has led me through more than two decades of depression. I pray that He will be glorified in my life, and that His power will rest on me! It won’t happen unless I learn to wait on Him and to boast in my weaknesses instead of trusting in my own strength. I can try to move forward under my own power, or I can accept His offer to put my arm around His shoulder and let Him carry me.