(I’ve been staying with my mom for a couple weeks. She is recovering from a nasty bout of pneumonia. This morning we were having a conversation about worry, control, and acceptance of the new normal. After our talk, I found this piece in my to be finished file. The message seems timely…hope it is for you, too.)
Have you ever considered what it must have been like to be Adam and Eve? How perfect their life was. How every one of their needs was met before they could ask. How they had no questions, because there was no need. How every day they walked with God—they were completely in his presence.
How cunning of the Tempter to challenge their naïveté, their simple way of life.
He challenged them on the only front he could: their desire for more, their sense of entitlement. And they bit and bought his deception, and that introduced the problem of dissatisfaction to the whole human race.
We are entering the season of the year when we focus not only on being thankful, but a time when we contemplate the giving of the greatest gift—God himself coming as a baby—born that man no more may die.
Recently, I spent some time in my Sunday message addressing how meekness is not weakness. I suggested the definition: Meekness is therefore an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture.
I think Paul must have understood this.
To the Corinthian church he wrote: Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8-10, NLT).
Eugene Peterson in The Message gives us this paraphrase of the same passage: I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. Now I could see Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Because of this shift in thinking, I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get—the less control I try to muster, the stronger I become.
To the Colossians Paul also wrote: And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (Colossians 3:15-17, NLT).
And to the Thessalonians, in his final advice section, he pens: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT).
James got it too: Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4, NLT).
Our strength comes from being grateful that God is in control. We can rely on him. The recognition of our inability to control things is where our weakness meets up with God’s strength.
This is where I find confidence to declare with Paul, that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
It’s not a matter of “doing” everything.
I can’t do everything, or every thing.
But I can face what ever comes my way.
Because he promises in all things we are—or can be—more than conquerors.
So when the tempter slithers up beside and tries to convince you that you don’t have enough, or the best, or less than someone else—call him what he is: a big fat liar.
The LORD, he is your shepherd…and you have everything you need…
…and be grateful.