Strength in Weakness

My pastor here showed me a site yesterday called despair.com. One of my favorite parody posters from the site has a fish jumping out of the water and a bear waiting to catch it and the poster reads, “The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.”

Have you ever felt like God led you on a journey, only to get knocked on your butt in pain wondering, “What’s the point?”

None of us begin our day thinking, “I hope something unexpectedly goes wrong today” or “I hope there is pain in this beautiful day.” Reality is that many days are filled with pain of some kind, but there is a certain strength that can be found in weakness.

About six weeks ago I took a three day vacation. It was supposed to be a relaxing time away in a little city before tackling the logistics and organization required for the rush of everyone returning from summer.

I woke up sick, almost missed my flight, and it rained 75% of the time I was there. Nonetheless it was a picturesque city, with friendly people and I really did enjoy my visit. BUT It wasn’t how I pictured my vacation.

Upon returning home, I found myself in massive pain that refused to be helped by pain killers, heat, ice, stretching or any other method. It hurt to move. It hurt not to move. After attempting to fight through the pain, I gave in and went to a neurologist who sent me for an MRI.

Verdict: Herniated cervical disc

And so a month and a half later I find that intense pain has become a daily reality and it may not be going away anytime in the near future.

I have cried more tears in the span of six weeks than possibly in the last six years. I have been angry that God has not swooped in and made it all better overnight. I have been frustrated at me weakness and inability to perform.  And I’ve been really grumpy because I can’t sleep well.

Finding Strength in Weakness

images-5In the midst of it I have found that I’ve talked to God a whole lot more than I have in quite some time. In this time of staring at the ceiling during sleepless nights, many names and situations have come to mind and been brought before God in prayer. I forgot how much I love the night hours and in that time seeking God and interceding for others (since I’ve been trying to be an adult and go to bed at a sane hour).

My church and friends have prayed countless times. And while I’m not miraculously recovered (yet!), God has used it to minister to my heart. The pastors, church staff and friends have all been filled with grace at my missed deadlines, appointments and have put up with my whining. And I’ve been humbled by the genuine concern of others and their willingness to go out of their way to help, often offering before I can even ask.  I have had nothing to offer and, yet, have found myself in a place of being overwhelmingly loved and anything but alone.

And so in this weak place I am finding again that “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and that one of the keys to this joy is thankfulness because there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for (as I type this I’m thankful for the numbing effect of ice among other things). To see God show up in a miraculous way, you have to be in a place of needing the miraculous.

Do I think God herniated my cervical disc? No, of course not.

Do I think He allowed it and is using for a greater purpose? Absolutely!

Have you ever seen God use the pain you went through for a greater purpose?
What did God show you through that situation?