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.2 Corinthians 12:9 English Standard Version (ESV)
I know it’s a very common verse, a classic even some might say, but I’d like to attempt to describe to you how God proved it’s truth to me and by His grace caused it to be written in my heart.
My family came home from the mission field a year ago. We came home in desperate circumstances, in the midst of a health crisis, and we came home quickly. I suppose I always had the expectation that we, like most M’s, would sense that our time was coming to a close and by His leading countdown to a return date. We returned broken, empty, confused, with only a glimmer of hope. We made plans to have surgical procedures right away that would get my husband healthy enough to return to our work within a year.
God had other plans.
The surgeries didn’t go well and we had to surrender our field lives at the foot of the cross. During this time I was confident in the faithfulness of God. I knew if I continued in obedience, eventually He would cause my heart to align with His. It was a hard place for me to trust the Lord and it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to surrender. I felt like he was asking for everything all at once. Even worse I felt like he wasn’t asking, He just took it all away.
He did, over time, align my desires with His (Psalm 37:4), but I had come to the end of my self in the process. But it was in the midst of this lowest of lows that He revealed His power. I could see Him clearly when I had nothing left. I had to surrender when I lost all of my strength. It was like swimming against a raging current to the point of exhaustion only to realize the current will carry you where it wishes; It’s like this with the surrendered life. God takes us very seriously when give our lives to Him and he doesn’t desire to see us off course. I thought I was on course, doing a good work, and for him! But the more I fought against joining Him in this new season, the more weary I became. It was good for me to be exhausted from striving in the flesh so that the will of the lord could carry me where He knew I needed to go. My destination is a place of deeper trust than He ever required before. It’s called “The Everlasting Arms”. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
The example God gave to me of a gal coming to the end of herself is the widow of Zarephath.
The Widow of Zarephath
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.1 Kings 17:8-16
She literally has one meal left. She must feel out of time and resources and strength to say that she is ready to die. It’s sweet to me that she shares with Elijah because she trusts the word of the Lord. God continues to provide for her daily through miracles. The flour is never spent and the oil is never dry! Sometimes He provides for all of our needs at once- He did this in the practical sense for us when He provided jobs and schools and the health insurance needed for surgeries all in one day when we came home last summer. But for the brokenness of our hearts and spirit He provided one meal at a time. He desires our dependence on him and delights in being Jehovah Jireh! It reminds me of the times after my babies were born and my body was a ball of weakened flab (especially in the middle). I could hardly sit up on my own I was so weak. I began a strength program as soon as the doctor allowed but I didn’t feel strong after the first training session. I had to work out many times and build the muscle tissue necessary for walking through life with a 20 pound baby on my hip!
I wonder if the widow felt strong after one meal. I wonder if she was in awe of the Lord’s provision from the first oil cake. I didn’t enjoy the slow process of healing God was performing on my heart and it wasn’t easy for me to see what He was doing meal after meal. But now, looking back, I can see how He sustained me when I came to the end of myself. He knew that in the end, building my identity in Him would satisfy more than all my hopes and dreams.
Sister, if you’re in a season of feasting where your heart is full and you feel whole, eat well! If you’re in a season of watching Him make one meal at a time sit with Him, sup with Him, learn to trust Him. Build your identity in him.
The building process might be slower than you desire but the more times you eat with someone, the better you get to know them.
Be weak my sister,
let Him be strong!
Hi girls, I’m Carissa Reeves! I’m married 17 years to Steve and together we have 4 arrows in our quiver. We were married 4 years before we felt called to serve Him however He would lead. It has been such a wild ride. He has taken us on a journey of paramount joy and suffering. We left the US in 2006 to live in Hungary, Ethiopia, Trenton NJ (which was the most foreign for this South Carolina girl) and finally in China for 8 years. We returned from the field a year ago and are enjoying a new season of growing in Him. Currently we live in Philly and I’m teaching high school chemistry at a Christian school. My husband, Steve, is the missions pastor at the church that loved and cared for us all those years on the field. Our children all attend the school/church where we work. I hope the testimony I share this week shows how sweetly and powerfully He provided for our family in a season of fear. I’m praying for you all as you receive this blog.