A week filled with the realization affliction is long and has a tenacious hold on me and then to wake up to this verse as God’s promise to me, while watching the skies wake up in brilliant pink – yes, this was my morning.
There is weakness, and there is weakness. Weakness of mind. Weakness of heart. Weakness of spirit. Weakness of physical ability. Weakness of faith. My thoughts ebbed and flowed out of these weaknesses this week so it has been draining and at times my heart has been overwrought.
How does one get on the other side of an affliction when it is enduring to this length? How did Amy Carmichael remain faithful for 25 years in her bed? How did Adoniram Judson endure the atrocities while incarcerated in Burma for being a Christ follower? How did Dietrich Bonhoeffer stay the course in his cell? Or Corrie ten Boom in Germany, with her family imprisoned as well, not knowing where they were and eventually discovering her much-loved father died alone?
Moses enduring the desert but not getting to enter the Promised Land? Abraham climbing the mountain with his son little knowing he was to be called upon to offer that precious son as the sacrifice. Or Esther, in anguish for her people, enduring the very real possibility of beheading, to plea to the king, her husband, on behalf of the Jews, her people?
I am not alone. There is a great cloud of witnesses – all those mentioned above have gone before and they are those waiting at the finish line for me, for you, cheering us on.
More importantly however, is God’s Presence. We are not alone, He is with us. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow, He is WITH us. Holding us, leading us, gently nudging us to go forward. This is how the saints endured. They knew without a shadow of doubt they were not alone. They dug deep into Him, the Creator of the universe, and lover of our souls, and allowed Jesus to be everything to them. And Jesus was.
In remembering 2 Corinthians 12:9, there is only one way in which our strength is made perfect in weakness – Jesus. Our weaknesses are placed in Him and out pours His strength.
The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Jesus becomes our strength. I cannot conjure up this type of Strength – but I can trust in Him to be my strength in this affliction. When I can no longer go on, He can. When I am done, done, done. He is not, nor will He ever be.
In writing this out, I have come to the realization that although the pain has been over the top for the last 33 months, it’s not the pain that is troublesome. It’s the length of the affliction which has me in tears.
Maybe I could speak for the others who have found themselves in this type of marathon, or maybe I cannot, but the truth for me is this: God is Sovereign. He knows my days, my life, my path, my marathon. He sees every tear that has fallen, He has heard every cry. My suffering is not in vain, there is a purpose and a redemption within it's walls. God is for me, is in me and fills me with His goodness and His power.
It is He who is my Strength. I can go from Strength to Strength because I can go from Jesus to Jesus without every having to let go of Him. He holds me, He gathers me unto His chest. He sings a lullaby over me at night and whispers in my ear during the day. He lights my path, He is my path.
He is my everything.
Why am I so quick to forget these truths? The stark reality is I am a sinner and I need a Saviour – this is the bottom line. What was done on the Cross almost 2,000 years ago, the redemptive work of the Cross - was complete in its fullness. There is nothing leftover for Christ to do. When He cried out, “It is finished!” He meant it. There is not lingering side jobs, clean up nor another trip to the store to get the project done. He completed it.
And He is faithful to complete it in each of us (Philippians 1:6) in our lifetimes.
God is amazing. He takes each of us and our stuff and works it for His glory and our good. He invites us to participate in the marathon, not wanting us to sit on the sidelines and be spectators, God wants us as willing participants in this very real game of life. It’s not a game, it is reality with life and death at stake. And He is asking us to choose life.
My life includes a season of affliction (and I pray it truly is a season), one in which I want to honor and glorify my Heavenly Father. Are you willing to do the same in yours?
Abba Daddy, thank You for being my Strength. Thank You for taking my weakness and turning it into glorious strength usable for Your kingdom work. Only You alone can do this - in humility I give You access to my heart and my life to do a work, one in which You are magnified and glorified in this affliction. May Your stamp of Sovereignty be all over me and point others to Jesus, Your precious Son. AMEN