His Grace Works Through Our Weakness

In church on Sunday, I was tired and somewhat depressed and anxious about the future, but–as God is kindly wont to make happen–the message spoke directly to me.

The New Testament Scripture reading was from 1 Corinthians 12:

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Below are a few notes I took, with some additions:

God’s power is released in my weakness.

My personal weakness lies in my lack of training: I need certifications and can’t afford them. I need to finish college and can’t afford it. I don’t have the education I need in order to get the promotion I so badly need.

God’s response? ‘My power is made perfect in your weakness.’

The Corinthians were strong and spiritually gifted. They were also proud and divided. They believed their gifts were theirs. But God’s greatest gift to us is weakness.

Are we cursing God because of our weakness? ‘If I could only be strong, I might have a shot at being God’s hands and feet.’

God works more powerfully in our weaknesses than our strengths.

Our weakness reminds us of God’s strength.

In the midst of debilitating weakness, God says, ‘my grace is sufficient’.

He doesn’t despise us for our weaknesses.

We must learn to see that weakness as my greatest opportunity.

In our weakness, his strength flows through us.


Edit: As I was looking to Facebook for encouragement (Reddit and Twitter are downers today), more encouragement came in the form of a post from a friend:

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
– Deuteronomy 31:8

Because God is omnipresent, He is able to go ahead of us–preparing a way–without ever leaving our side. That’s incredible! We are truly never alone.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong; for the Lord upholds his hand.”
– Psalm 37:23-24

Update

I’ve had nothing to write for the past month or so, or at least no ideas that felt worth committing to keyboard and screen. Part of it is the fact that I lost my job in November, and though I have since secured a form of employment, it hasn’t been a pleasant time. 

Normally this would be the perfect time to write, for artistry sometimes comes out of suffering in many cases, but in me, it caused the well to dry up, so to speak. I’m still not fully over the emotional rollercoaster that it’s caused, for certain dreams of mine have been crushed once again, and I don’t know what to share with you about that. 

I had plans to go back to college, and those were ruined when I lost my job. Right now I feel lost and adrift. At times I’m depressed because I need education in order to get a better job, and I can’t afford it. I need IT certifications and can’t afford those. I feel stuck, and that’s not a good feeling. 
Sorry I have nothing good to share. Perhaps that will change soon. 

A (Potential) Way To Stabilize Yourself During The Bad Days

photo-1427694012323-fb5e8b0c165bOver the past few weeks I’ve been working on my self-talk, trying to be more positive about work in particular: that forty-plus-hour block of time that I somehow have to deal with, one way or another.

Every day I have a few choices, and I’ve always been told that this is a binary thing: I can expect the good, or expect the bad.

I may have found a third choice that works. We shall see. It’s still in the experimental phase, and I might drop it if it doesn’t work. This choice goes like this:

It’s going to be a good day, whether it is or not.

I tell myself this strange little phrase several times in the morning and often throughout the day, depending on how hard the day actually is. I don’t know why this helps, but it seems to help keep me neutral during the day: bad stuff will come, good stuff will come, whatever, but it’s still a good day.

This approach takes the good and the bad into account. I’m going to get easy calls, I’m going to get terrible ones, but I don’t have to let outside circumstances destabilize me–at least not at work.

I wouldn’t say I’m a happier person because of this, but happiness is not the goal. Stability, evenness, and a sense of well-being, that’s more important than happiness to me.

Try it out and see what you think. If you’re having problems keeping stable, this might trick your mind into being able to deal with things a little easier. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter if it worked for you. Thanks.

Voices

photo-1474393881983-cd780bf9f4adsomething’s wrong

[looks around] Why do I feel bad? What’s wrong with me?

something’s wrong – something’s wrong – something’s wrong

Ugh, what is this?

all your failures – all your failures – all your failures in sequential order

[cries]

failures – failures – failures

Wait. [checks pockets]

doom – doom – it’s over – this is the end

Crap, I forgot to take my meds.

failure – doom – something’s wrong – something’s wr… [silence]

That’s a little better.

Voices

something’s wrong

[looks around] Why do I feel bad? What’s wrong with me?

something’s wrong – something’s wrong – something’s wrong

Ugh, what is this?

all your failures – all your failures – all your failures in sequential order

[cries]

failures – failures – failures

Wait. [checks pockets]

doom – doom – it’s over – this is the end

Crap, I forgot to take my meds.

failure – doom – something’s wrong – something’s wr… [silence]

That’s a little better.

Progressive Clarification 

photo-1464746133101-a2c3f88e0dd9One of the difficult things about this life is when you reach the frustration point: I am not who I need to be; I can’t think the way I need to; I need clarification; what is wrong with me?

Well, nothing is wrong with you. It’s just not clear yet.

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:4-6

The problem I run into so many times is that I cannot think clearly enough. Either I am too emotionally attached to the issue at hand to make a clear decision, or no one path seems better than the other.

That’s when I need clarity. And there’s nothing wrong with seeking God in prayer with that–as a matter of fact, that should be our first step, seeking our Almighty and ever-loving God for wisdom.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5

I have learned over the years that if I am stuck in negative thinking, that I am not thinking right. Sometimes there’s a quick fix for that: take a nap, get some exercise, grab a bite to eat. Sometimes the problem is a little deeper and I might have to have a talk with myself, like David:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation. – Psalm 42:5

“C’mon, cheer up, snap out of it!” There’s no shame in talking to yourself, maybe even bossing yourself around a little bit. We have far more control over our internal thought processes and emotional state than we think we do.

We all proceed ‘from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and need clarification along the way. I myself have been asking God for clarity on my life’s work, what career path I’m to take next, and through prayer and counseling have come up with a ‘game plan’ (going back to college and getting a teaching degree, which has been my heart’s desire for decades).

But it’s taken many years to arrive at this point where I can think clearly about the future. rather than wading daily through a fog of misery and confusion. I didn’t start getting treatment for my mental illness issues (which I didn’t know that I had) until I had a full nervous breakdown several years back. It’s been a long, difficult road since then. But I’m glad to be able to say that I’ve reached a little more clarity. And every week things become a little more clear, through prayer, wise counsel, life experiences, and reading books. But I’m not ‘all the way there’ yet. And neither are you. But that’s OK.

Progressive clarification, that’s what we receive from God. Enough light for the path ahead. Eventually enough light will come so we can see farther. But for right now, we have a little light, and that’s enough.

Life In The Midlife

It was a dark and stormy life.
It was a dark and stormy life.

As stated in the previous post, I’ve been working through a midlife crisis. I’m approaching 40 and longing for work that’s significant instead of just money-making.

It’s a really challenging time because I’m seeking advice from books and from a life coach. I have to do something different with my life–but I feel a little powerless at times. In order to do anything different in my career, I would either need to go back to college or trade school, and both ideas are something I am having a hard time dealing with.

I need to learn something else. I need different skills to not only pay the bills, but a different life situation where I am using the talents God has given me in a role that feels significant.

The reason I haven’t written much on this is that this season is also one of an identity crisis. When a book asks me to ask myself, ‘Who am I?’ and I don’t have a ready answer, that’s when things get painful. I’ve come up with a million Twitter bios over the years, listing whatever I’m into right now: learning Japanese, lover of progressive rock, World of Warcraft player, a lot of things. I can easily tell you what I do, and what I like, but I can’t tell you who I am.

Here are a few other questions that the book I’m reading, Consider Your Calling: Six Questions for Discerning Your Vocation, asks:

  • What on earth is God doing?
  • Who are you?
  • What is your stage of life?
  • What are your circumstances?
  • What is the cross you will have to bear?
  • What are you afraid of?

Some of these I don’t have very positive answers for, or don’t have any answer. I have a life coach also asking me a lot of questions, and it’s easy to get discouraged during this process of internal probing and intense prayer asking God to make things clear.

I’m sure that good will come out of this time soon, but it’s been painful.