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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Power and Weakness

Treasured friend,

My apologies for the brevity of my recent devotional thoughts. I'm knee-deep in writing my new book, on one of the shortest deadlines I've ever agreed to. In fact, though, I am on schedule--this week both passing the halfway point of creating the first draft and reaching the halfway point of the contract term. I'm feeling a little like I'm using up my word allottment for each week on book chapters, though. Like I have nothing left when I'm done with work for the day.

But I never want you to feel like I'm giving you second best. So, I want to share with you one of the Scriptures I've been studying for today's chapter. I do believe this one has direct meaning to each of us in our caregiving roles, as well as to both our ailing loved ones and our personal physical challenges.

It comes from the apostle Paul, and it is an oft-quoted passage--too often, though, quoted at us in our suffering, to chide us rather than encourage us. First, here it is:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [Paul's 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 (2 Corinthians 12:8-9, ESV).
First, I observe Paul's emotional pleading to God to remove this debilitating pain from him. Second I observe that God does indeed answer. I guess I'd like to know if God answered Paul when he first prayed, or if He seemed silent until after Paul had pleaded three times. But Scripture doesn't tell us that. It only indicates that Paul got an answer he didn't want, at least initially. God said no to His servant. Here's my paraphrase of what God told Paul:
No, I won't take away this sharp pain that seems to be hindering your ministry. Instead, I'll give you the grace to stand it--and the power to accomplish My purposes in it. Now that you know for sure that you're weak, you'll have the opportunity to see how strong I am.
I love Paul's response--although I'm too often hard pressed to respond in kind. He not only accepts God's answer as sufficient, but he also is grateful for the power of Christ that shows itself so clearly in his pain.
Please don't think I'm one of those quoting this Scripture at you. No, I'm sharing it with you, because I've had more than my share of opportunities to live out how true it really is. Even today, I'm feeling painfully aware of my own weakness, yet even so I'm experiencing His inexplicable power to continue my work--in strength that is not my own. And so, I pray for you today, my friend, that you will experience this same assurance--that even when God chooses not to change your painful circumstances, He is gracious enough to sustain you and powerful enough to shine through you in them.

I can say this to you only because I know it to be true. And what He did for Paul, what He's doing for me, He's willing to do for you, too.

Blessings and prayers, Julie

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  1. Stopping by from the link party. I truly enjoyed reading your thoughts and words.

    1. Thanks Debra. So glad to know you're here and enjoying! Blessings, j-a