Willing in Weakness

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“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:6-7
Over the last few months, life seems to have ushered in a series of trials.  I’ve watched people I care about walk through valleys that are dark and filled with pain.  They’ve been tormented by addiction and hopelessness.  Their hearts have been flooded with lies from an Enemy who only desires to steal, kill, and destroy.  He drills into them their imperfections, only to convince them they are long past the point of redemption.
In the same way, I’ve labored through my own valleys.  Combating powerful feelings of anger, loneliness, doubt, and fear.  My spirit is exhausted from the battle to see redemption conquer sin, and joy be restored.  These last few months have left me willing, but weak. Concluding that life is hard, ministry is hard, and loving people the way Christ intended is hard.  Suffering is inevitable, and I’m reminded of 1 Peter 4 which says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as if something strange were happening to you.”  A life of discipleship isn’t a life of picking daisies, but rather, it’s war.  It’s a war against our flesh to crucify our sin and follow hard after Christ.  It’s a war against a world bent on itself.  It’s a war, not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Being lied to and manipulated over and over leaves me bitter and unsympathetic.  Watching people suffer in addiction leaves me weary and grieving for their souls.  Doubt and insecurity leave me wondering where I fit in my neighborhood, my work, and my ministry.  I question whether God has really equipped me to handle the things He has entrusted me.  Yet despite my questioning, He has called me to stand in the middle of it.  He calls me to carry the burdens of those around me, and to crucify my desires and wants.  Despite the lies, manipulation, grief, weariness, doubt, and insecurity, He says, “Follow Me.” 
In this season of testing, and in this season where God seems incredibly quiet, the only steadiness I can count on are the promises He speaks over His people:
The Promise to Be Near
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”  Psalms 34: 18-19
The Promise of Rest
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:29-30
The Promise of Hope
“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5
The Promise of Relief

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that in the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you…Resist him [the devil], firm in your faith…And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”  1 Peter 5:6-10
As the people of God, we have great comfort in suffering because Jesus, the one we love and follow, suffered.  He chose to suffer so that we might have life.  The question for us is, do we still fight the fight of faith, confident that our trials and suffering make us more like Jesus?  Do we rest in the assurance of an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,” or do we settle for the feeble, unstable, and fleeting promises of this world?  Does our testing result in praise to a holy God, who saved us through His suffering?  I may feel weakened by the war, exhausted from the various trials of life, but I’m alive in the promises of God, and the promise of future grace.
Brit Anthes
May 2013

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