It never ceases to amaze me when I encounter a passage from Scripture that speaks to my heart in one way one month and a completely different day another month. This time last month, I wrote a post called Anecdotes From a Faithful Wuss. The passage from 2 Corinthians encouraged me during a period of feeling like a wuss. I still do feel like a wuss a lot of times. I'm still a "Much-Afraid", but this month I've been chewing on this 2 Corinthians passage. It seems to keep popping up!
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: 9-10)
Paul is writing to the Corinthian church. This is the end of his second letter, and he is sharing with them about a thorn in his flesh that keeps him from becoming conceited (2 Cor 12:7). He pleaded with the Lord to take the thorn away, but this passage is the Lord's response.
Paul does not have a literal thorn in his flesh, but the thorn is a nuisance, a struggle. The Lord responds to Paul's requests to remove the thorn by telling Paul that His grace is sufficient for Paul, because His power is made perfect in weakness.
God's power is made perfect in weakness? This sounds too good to be true, but it's not.
God's grace is sufficient, because His power is made perfect in weakness.
That's what the Lord tells Paul in response to Paul's request and struggle.
Ruminate (fancy word for deeply thinking about something) on this with me.
God's grace is sufficient for you.
Because His power is made perfect in weakness.
If you think like me, power and weakness shouldn't belong in the same sentence, but they do, and it's all because of God's grace.
God's grace is an integral part of God's power being made perfect in our weakness.
In fact, that's the essence of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. We are weak and sinful. We're not perfect. Before a holy and perfect and powerful God, we don't stand a chance. But God sent Jesus, His perfect and holy Son, to earth to live a perfect human life, to die on a cross for our sins, and in doing so, exchanging our imperfections and weaknesses for his perfection and strength. But that wasn't all!
The same power that is made perfect in weakness was the power that resurrected Christ from the dead. Talk about power!
God's grace was in sending Jesus to die in the place of sinful man. If we believe in Jesus Christ, this grace is lavished on us. Jesus took our place. He took our sin and imperfections, and now God views us as He views Jesus, as perfect and spotless.
We will still sin in this life and experience weakness, but God's grace is sufficient. Meaning, his grace is enough.
This is why Paul concludes that he will boast in his weaknesses.
When we are weak, the power of Christ, the same power that brought Jesus Christ back from the dead, rests on us.
We're free to be weak. We can be content in weaknesses, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
God's grace is sufficient, and it makes us strong when we are weak.
I haven't even scratched the surface of chewing on this passage. There is so much more to learn about God's grace and His sufficiency and how that affects my life and weaknesses.
But will you ruminate on this with me: the power of Christ rests on us in our weaknesses. I don't know about you, but that gives me a lot of hope when I am weak, fearful, or feeling like a wuss.
Bring on the weaknesses, because God's grace is sufficient, because His power is made perfect in weakness.
I have the pleasure of introducing you to my dear friend, Amber, who is the next guest writer in the series Modern Women of Faith. Amber just graduated with a degree in Nutritional Sciences from Pennsylvania State University. She loves to cook and she's gifted at it! (Her chickpea cookie dough recipe is da best!). I had the privilege of walking along side Amber as we both grew in our faith during college, and I'm delighted to have her share and walk along side all of you.
I am so honored that my dear friend Madi asked me to contribute to her blog series about being a Woman of Faith! Our friendship began when I was not a believer, and today, by Gods grace and mercy, I have been saved. I can’t help but praise God for Madi and her influence on my life.
When Madi first approached me to write a post about what it looks like to be a woman of faith, to be honest, I was stumped. I prayed often and felt the Spirit was calling me to be honest about a part of my life that I don't speak of often.
During the past year, the Lord has challenged me more than ever to surrender my idolization of relationships. As a 22-year-old woman, I have yet to experience what it looks like to be pursued by a man or a godly man at that. As long as I can remember, I’d cry and question the Lord's intentions. I saw my sister, family, and friends in relationships and getting engaged and married. I felt like the Lord was withholding something my heart so desired and still desires. I sought to feel wanted, chosen, loved, and pursued.
Today, however, the Lord continues to redeem this area of my life. While I look back through my journals, think about my thoughts, conversations, and prayers, I am so grateful for this period of my life. I know now that I am wanted, chosen, loved and pursued by the ultimate husband: Christ. Although I thought the Lord was not providing for me, I can see now how he protected me from heartache, tears, and disappointment.
As believers, living by faith simply means to have complete trust or confidence in someone or something, that someone being Christ. Trusting that singleness isn’t a curse, but rather a blessing.
It’s not about being married or single. It’s about trusting God in whatever state you are in. Single. Engaged. Married.
If you seek fulfillment in Christ, you will find it. Singleness is an incredible and exceptional privilege, a period to build and strengthen your relationship with Christ. A privilege I am so glad I get to experience.
In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul writes to remind those in the Corinthian church that singleness is not to bring shame or discontentment but rather lessen distractions. He is not saying to not marry, but rather enjoy the season the Lord has put you in and strive to honor him.
In all you do, I want you to be free from worry. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please Him. But a married man can’t do that so well; he has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. It is the same with a girl who marries. She faces the same problem. A girl who is not married is anxious to please the Lord in all she is and does. But a married woman must consider other things such as housekeeping and the likes and dislikes of her husband. I am saying this to help you, not to try to keep you from marrying. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few other things as possible to distract your attention from him.
In this seemingly forever season, I have come to realize that the Lord has already given me everything I need. He has given me Himself. If I could serve the Lord better as a married woman, then I would be married.
No longer am I ashamed, but I do have times of struggle where my desires overpower the truth; nonetheless the Lord continues to shower me with grace and mercy as I learn to grow in wisdom and discernment. My heart will always desire to be married, a desire that the Lord has freely given me. Now it’s up to me to use this season to most glorify him through faith.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3
To you, a woman of faith, during your period of singleness, trust in the Lord and his good works. Don’t be anxious or envious. He has not forgotten about you. He hears your prayers and knows your heart's desires. He is your ultimate husband. Turn and surrender to him.
From an amazing poem that speaks so much truth: I Will Wait by Janette McGhee
But to my Father,
my Father who has known me before I was birthed into this earth,
only if You should see fit.
I desire Your will above mine.
So even if you call me to a life of singleness,
my heart is content with You—the One who was sent.
You are the greatest love story ever told,
the greatest love ever known.
You are forever my judge and I’m forever Your witness,
and I pray that I’m always found on a mission about my Father’s business.
I will always be Yours,
and I will always wait for You, Lord.
More than the watchmen wait for the morning,
more than the watchmen wait for the morning,
I will wait.
Loving people is hard work. I admit it. It's just plain hard in a world full of broken relationships and sin. Sometimes the hardest people to love are the people you love the most. And sometimes we're called to love people that are just plain hard to love.
A Loving Life, by Paul Miller focuses on the book of Ruth and hesed love.
Hesed is a Hebrew word that means God's loving kindness and his love for mankind. God loves us with a committed, steadfast, and sacrificial love.
This is the love that we are called to show to others, but it is not an easy love and it is hard to apply. Ultimately, it comes from knowing the one that was the ultimate embodiment of hesed, Jesus.
Paul Miller spends the book going through the book of Ruth, showing how Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz embrace hesed love at different points in the story and love sacrificially.
Reading A Loving Life was the first time I considered the sacrifices Ruth makes to love Naomi. Reading the book of Ruth in a modern culture can make it really difficult to understand the gravity of Ruth's decision to stay with Naomi, but Miller focuses on the significance of Ruth's decision in her culture and how it is a display of self-sacrificing love.
I could probably go on and on about this book. The content is challenging and refreshing, and it gave me a new perspective on the book of Ruth while also reminding me of the sacrificial love of Jesus. It encouraged me to think about areas in my life where God is calling me to love others with hesed love.
Definitely worth a read if you want a loving life. It's hard to cultivate, but as evidenced by Ruth, so worth it!
Below are some quotes that I enjoyed from the book.
Instinctively, we hunt for a church or community that makes us feel good. It is good to be in a place where you are welcome, but making that quest central is idolatry. And like all idolatry, it ultimately disappoints. But if we pursue hesed love, then, wherever we go, we create community. (Pg 100)
No story is more powerful than a gospel story. In fact, if you want to write a book or a movie script, you'd better make it a gospel story, or it likely won't sell. When Troy came out as a movie, I thought, "It will flop. It isn't a gospel story; it's a Greek tragedy." I was right. It flopped. Les Miserables, though, whether on Broadway, Public TV, or the big screen, is a hit. It's the power of the gospel. (Pg. 69)
You endure the weight of love by being rooted in God. Your life energy needs to come from God, not the person you are loving. The more difficult the situation, the more you are forced into utter dependence on God. That is the crucible of love, where self-confidence and pride are stripped away, because you simply do not have the power or wisdom or ability in yourself to love. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you can't love. That is the beginning of faith - knowing you can't love. (Pg. 43)
We come alive as we love. The depth and quality of Ruth's character emerge when she binds herself in love. She's an unusual combination of quiet power and love, intimidated neither by Naomi nor by the prospect of suffering. In fact, she fights to embrace suffering. She will not be out-loved. And she is thoughtful, actually brilliant. Her offer of herself as a living sacrifice is the only answer to Naomi's plan. (Pg. 44)
This book is filled with great nuggets, and these are just a few!
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She Laughs Without Fear